This past Sunday, the participants of HASC Center programs were once again treated to a wonderful experience that has become an annual event. A group of almost 100 young adults and children with special needs, accompanied by their parents and counselors, came to Freeport, Long Island to board the Dolphin fishing boat. This exceptional adventure was made possible through the generosity of Charles and Naomi Steinberg. The Steinbergs have been hosting individuals affiliated with HASC Center for the past several years. The initial shidduch was established through the intervention of Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak, their rav, who is also the clinical director of HASC Center.
This annual trip is sponsored by Charles and Naomi in memory of their beloved son Steven, z’l, who died at an early age. In an effort to find a suitable tribute to his memory, they reflected upon his all-too-short life and found that Steven had a profound interest in working with special-needs individuals and was also a “fisherman” of sorts. Charles relates that Steven had actually worked on a boat and was enamored with the occasions when special-needs children were brought onto the boat and he was able to familiarize them with the boat and help them fish. This background acted as the impetus, and the idea of sponsoring, in Steven’s memory, a fishing trip for special-needs individuals was born.
During this year’s trip, the excitement was palpable. As everyone boarded the boat, there were shrieks of glee blended with a sense of cautious tentativeness. For some, this was the first time that they had ever been on a boat and for most it would be the first time they had the opportunity to go fishing. As the boat pulled away from the dock, fishing poles were distributed, hooks baited, and the fishing started in earnest. The ship’s crew and Mr. Steinberg himself went from one person to the next, providing assistance and guidance. Shouts of excitement could be heard as the first fish was reeled in, to the delight of everyone. Many more such catches took place over the course of the trip. Dr. Wakslak commented, “It is quite amazing to observe how focused and relaxed everyone seemed despite the length of the journey.”
Time passed quickly and, sooner than anticipated, the boat turned around and made its way back to the dock silhouetted by a magnificent sunset. Prior to debarking, everyone gathered in the main cabin to daven Minchah. As the participants left the boat and made their way back to terra firma, they thanked the Steinbergs for a wonderful experience, went back to the bus, and within short order were on their way home to Brooklyn. There is little question that everyone was filled with memories of a wonderful end-of-summer experience.