In the Fountain House library, there is a plaque for George Grayson Tyler, former Fountain House Board President, Board member, and Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. His posthumous dedication reads, “George Tyler had maturity of judgement, a keen sense of humor, generosity of spirit and compassion for those less fortunate than he. He gave freely of his time and resources in support of Fountain House.”
Perhaps Mr. Tyler’s most enduring gift is the extraordinary relationship he established between Cravath and Fountain House. For decades, the firm has hired hundreds of members. (Each year, Cravath supports Fountain House’s Symposium and Luncheon and the organization’s work in many other invaluable ways.)
Fountain House is deeply grateful to Cravath for honoring Mr. Tyler’s legacy and providing life-changing opportunities to men and women living with serious mental illness.
“I’ve had the opportunity to visit Fountain House several times. It’s actually around the block from our office,” says Lina Maglara, the firm’s Director of Human Resources.
Fountain House member, Luanne, knows this well. “I grew up across the street from where Cravath is now. I saw the building being built in 1989.” Eighth Avenue and 49th Street in the 1970’s and 80’s was emblematic of a very different New York. “At the time, there were a lot of unsavory characters around Times Square. My mother was very overprotective. She never wanted me to leave the nest,” Luanne recalls.
And Luanne never did. They lived together in the same apartment for over 40 years until her mother passed away in 2010.
“My mother and I were very close. She was in show business before I was born and danced as a Rockette,” Luanne beams. “She retired when she got pregnant with me. My father abandoned us when I was three months old.”
School was torturous for Luanne who was bullied mercilessly. At 16, she began experiencing severe depression and anxiety. After two months at Hunter College, she dropped out and was hospitalized.
Soon after, she came to Fountain House. “In 1991, when I first became a member, I didn’t really take advantage of the employment program or much of anything else.” After a 15 year absence, she reconnected. “When I came back, there was an even stronger focus on programming and jobs and keeping active. I loved it. I was ready to start making money and becoming self-sufficient.”
When a Transitional Employment opportunity arose at Cravath, she got her wish. “My mom used to worry about what I would do to support myself. I don’t think either of us could have imagined I’d be working right across the street from where we lived,” Luanne chuckles.
“Somebody has to provide the first chance,” says Lina. “It is very rewarding and satisfying to be part of the solution. I really get the sense that Fountain House gives its members the opportunity to do something fulfilling with their lives.”
Lina Maglara, Director of Human Resources, Cravath
Lina hopes the relationship will continue well into the future. “Over the many years that Cravath has participated in the Transitional Employment program with Fountain House, we’ve been able to work with many enthusiastic and well-trained members who help us provide vital services to our attorneys and staff. It is truly a mutually beneficial relationship, one we hope to maintain for years to come."
In her position, Luanne is responsible for delivering packages and filing. She has made friends in the office and welcomes the routine and structure her job provides. “Working helps me stay strong. It gives me a reason to get up every day. I think my coworkers like me and my supervisor thinks I’m doing a good job. With the money I earn, I treat myself to different things. I just recently went out to a restaurant. I’d like to do that with someone special someday. I want to find a boyfriend and get married. I guess, at 48, that sounds kind of crazy,” Luanne laughs.