Ray Taylor came to Pleasantville Cottage School in 1936, when he was only six years old because his mother was unable to take care of her five children. For the next nine years, Ray lived at Pleasantville Cottage School and in 1945 went to live in JCCA foster homes in the Bronx and in Rockland County. Eventually, he was awarded a full scholarship from JCCA and graduated from Queens College, Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude, with departmental honors, and became a teacher. Later, he switched careers, becoming an insurance broker and then founding his own casualty business. Today, Taylor & Taylor Associates insures more than 5,000 businesses and individuals, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

When I look back on my life, my years at Pleasantville are at the heart of the person I am today. I often tell people that the secret to my success was the staff at Pleasantville Cottage School who motivated me and enabled me to grow. I will always remember the words of one staff member, Ben Fish¬man, who said, “’You can be a lot bet¬ter than you think.’ It meant a great deal to me then and it still does.

These are words that have stayed with me for more than 70 years and encouraged me all my life. I am a living example—like many others— of how the support we received as kids at Pleasantville Cottage School from caring staff members paved the way for successful lives.

This early help, in turn, has motivated me to continue to give back to this great institution. I want to thank Pleasantville Cottage School for all that they did for me when I needed them, 76 years ago.”