Barbara and Mike Soroker have given about $150,000 to the Boca Raton Police Foundation for training and equipment not in the city budget. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
Were it not for the quick thinking of two Boston cops, Mike Soroker might not have made it to his fifth birthday.
An obviously rambunctious 4-year-old who snuck out to track down the nearby ice-cream truck, Soroker was hit by a car as he headed back to the house where his family was visiting.
With no ambulance nearby, the two officers who responded quickly put Soroker in a police van, where they helped stop the bleeding and raced him to a hospital where he would stay for 11 months while recovering.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Now, more than seven decades later, Soroker and his wife of more than half a century, Barbara, have found a way of showing their appreciation for the work of police officers by supporting the Boca Raton Police Foundation and by helping to raise money for the organization.
The couple is relatively new to South Florida, having moved to Boca Raton in 2019 for health reasons. They gave a $100,000 gift to the foundation after seeking it out in 2021 and then late last year created a $50,000 matching gift challenge which raised close to $109,000.
Money from the matching grant will be used to provide training tools for investigators that simulate high-risk scenarios involving people with mental health issues, according to Debbie Levine, executive director of the foundation, which helps fund items and training not included in the city’s budget.
The money raised also will help cover the cost of a training academy for families of law enforcement officers and will provide protective suits and gear for nonlethal force training as well as other items.
Soroker, who is now on the board of the foundation, says that in supporting the organization, he and Barbara wanted to make sure local law enforcement officers received the respect they deserve at a time when the phrase “defund the police” has become part of the national vernacular.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do at the right time,” Soroker said.
Soroker was meticulous in his research before he and his wife decided to support the foundation and the Police Department.
“I literally investigated them,” he said, adding that he spoke to several police officers to be sure the donation would be a worthwhile investment.
In one instance, Soroker walked up to a relatively new Boca Raton officer at Mizner Park and just asked him what he thought of the Police Department.
“He was really glowing about the management and felt that he could grow,” Soroker said. ”I walked away with a very comfortable feeling.”
Support of other causes
The Sorokers support Boca Helping Hands, another organization that passed the couple’s tough scrutiny with flying colors.
The couple also supported their local synagogue and Goodwill chapter while living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
That home was one of 17 they owned over the years, with Mike Soroker’s career taking him to cities in Canada, Japan as well as many in the U.S.
Soroker is an engineer who was a senior executive at a handful of international companies before buying Reliance Network, a company that specializes in building websites for real estate agents. After leaving the corporate world — where he worked for companies including Playtex, Baxter Health Care and Benetton — Soroker in 2000 began consulting. One client was Reliance, a small, struggling organization at the time.
Soroker later bought the company and has overseen its growth to the point where it has between 80,000 and 90,000 agents in its network. Although he gave up his title as CEO a short time ago, Soroker remains chairman of the board and puts in 20 to 30 hours a week.
He will tell you that a piece of his success in business can be traced back to another interaction he had with police officers who mentored him while he was playing basketball with the Police Athletic League in New Haven, Connecticut.
“They gave me the confidence to do anything,” he said. “I’ve always kept that feeling.”
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