The family of the late Amy [Perez] Friedlander has established a new foundation to honor the memory of a mother who was killed over a year ago in her Cross River home along with her two children, Molly and Gregory.
It's called Amy's Kisses Foundation, a nod to the chocolate candy Friedlander used to give the students she tutored, and to the desire she had to create a needs-based scholarship fund for her tutoring services. A newly launched website is now accepting donations.
"Our goal is to donate money to low-income, inner-city students who would like to pursue a college education, but would not have had the opportunity without a little ‘kiss’ from Amy," said her sister, Jill Gobora, of Newtown, PA, a founder of the organization.
The foundation's goals are to enrich the lives and education of students with financial need, Gobora said.
"We wanted to create a foundation to keep Amy's memory alive. As Amy's friends had already created the Forever Molly and Gregory Fund, in memory of the children, we wanted to complement their cause with one that was near and dear to Amy—education. While the Forever Molly and Gregory Fund benefits children in Molly and Gregory's community in New York, Amy's Kisses benefits local children in Philadelphia, near where Amy grew up. Amy's Kisses includes Molly and Gregory as well, as you cannot separate Amy from her children," Gobora said in an email to Patch.
Amy, Molly and Gregory were murdered by Friedlander's estranged husband, Sam Friedlander, before he committed suicide on Oct. 18, 2011. The murders devastated her family, who refer to her as Amy Perez, and her friends in New York, who established The Forever Molly & Gregory Fund to support pursuits close to Amy, Molly and Gregory in the areas of academic, artistic and athletic achievement.
Founders say Amy’s Kisses celebrates her "generosity of spirit, her commitment to academic excellence, and her enduring legacy." Donated funds will benefit Philadelphia Futures, providing Philadelphia’s high-potential, low-income, first-generation-to-college students with the tools, resources and opportunities necessary for admission to and success in college.
Gobora said the foundation will help her family deal with their grief over Amy's death.
“The pain my parents and I are experiencing is overwhelming and unbearable. We are starting this nonprofit to try and deal with our sadness and to keep Amy, Molly and Gregory’s beautiful memory alive," she said in a press statement.
The foundation will raise money for education, a cause important to Friedlander, who co-founded a successful college test preparation organization shortly before her death.
Locally, the Forever Molly & Gregory Fund has grown with individual contributions and proceeds from the South Salem Memorial Day races held earlier this year, according to its co-founder, Lisa Cohen of South Salem.
The fund has donated two defibrillators to the Lewisboro Baseball Association and a grant to the Lewisboro Soccer Club which will be used to purchase player benches at the soccer fields at Onatru Park and design a memorial that will retire Gregory's soccer number. The grant also covers new landscaping around the area with added safety benefits for soccer players and spectators, said Cohen, who said she was so far pleased with the progress of the fund.
"We've accomplished everything we've set out to do, by memorializing the kids and supporting sports that were important to them," said Cohen. "And there is more work to do."
A project that will benefit the middle school art department, where Molly would have been a student, is in preliminary stages, she said.
To donate to Amy’s Kisses visit their website: www.amyskisses.org.
To donate to The Forever Molly & Gregory Fund, visit their website: www.mollyandgregory.org.