A Founder of the Children’s Health Fund Packs Up His Doctor’s Bag

In 1986, as New York City reeled from a crack epidemic and runaway violence, Paul Simon, the musician, and Irwin Redlener, a doctor, paid a visit to one of the city’s notorious welfare hotels, the Martinique in Midtown Manhattan.

The two had been working together to raise money and awareness for children in Africa, as part of the “We Are the World” campaign, when it occurred to Mr. Simon that perhaps they could also address urgent needs closer to home.

At the Martinique, they found a desperate situation, with homeless families camped in squalid conditions, the threat of violence ever-present and the access to health care severely limited.