On May 28, more than 150 friends, families, and supporters including a representative of the Mayor of Cedarhurst, Mr. Ben Weinstock, joined for the Friendship Circle Annual Evening of Volunteer Recognition.
The evening culminated an amazing year of love, friendship, and enriching the lives of children with special needs. Parents expressed their gratitude, children detailed their exciting adventures with their volunteers, and the volunteers reflected on the year with pride and fulfillment. The teens were presented with certificates of recognition, a Friendship Circle medallion, as well as a limited edition Friendship Circle sweatshirt.
Joy, confidence, smiles, and laughter are some of the words used to describe the time spent between a Friendship Circle volunteer and their special friend, whose lives are both transformed.
Addressing the attendees during the evening of recognition were Mrs. Batsheva Borenstein, the Friendship Circle’s director, Mr. Rob Kurtz, the program’s emcee, who captured the essence of Friendship Circle, and parent representative of the evening, Mrs. Mimi Srulovitch who spoke beautifully about the volunteers.
Esther Wilamowsky, Andrew Goldstein, and Aviva Sussman, the volunteer representatives of the evening, spoke about the value of being volunteers. Esther commented that this experience has taught her life skills, and that working with children with special needs makes all outside pressures melt away.
Andrew read a beautiful poem in which he reflected on his three years as a Friendship Circle volunteer.
Aviva mentioned how the Lubavitcher Rebbe expressed respect for the wounded soldiers of war. He objected to them being called the disabled of Yisrael instead they are the special of Yisrael.
Yisroel Hefter, an adorable seven-year-old participant in the Friendship Circle, thanked his volunteers for the fun they had these past few years, referring to them as his heroes.
The evening featured Richard Bernstein, an accomplished lawyer, marathon runner, and advocate for the rights of the disabled. Blind since birth, Richard Bernstein never let his limitations stop him in any way. He sets goals and achieves them, whether they are personal or professional, and he does it in his own unassuming, modest way. From participating in countless marathons to graduating law school, from hosting a radio show to speaking all over the world on behalf of the disabled, Richard sets his mind to something and he achieves it.
Despite his physical blindness, Richard sees more in the hearts and minds of others than most who have been blessed with the gift of sight. With his true gift of seeing what is truly important and vital, he uplifts us all and reminds us of what really matters in life.
To contact the Friendship Circle, visit www.fc5towns.com or e-mail Batsheva@chabad5towns.com. v