This past Sunday, the participants of HASC Center programs were treated to a wonderful experience. An entire group of young adults and children with special needs accompanied by their parents and counselors came to Point Lookout on Long Island to board the Princess Marie for an amazing fishing expedition. This exceptional adventure was made possible through the generosity of Charles and Naomi Steinberg. The Steinbergs have been sponsoring fishing excursions for the past three years, but this year, through the intervention of Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak, their rav who is also the clinical director of HASC Center, they offered to host the HASC Center contingent.
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 he was also a “fisherman” of sorts. Charles relates that Steven had actually worked on a boat and was enamored with the occasions on which 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 a fishing trip for special needs individuals in Steven’s memory 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. All of a sudden, 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.” In most instances the fish were deemed to be too small and needed to be returned to the water. There were, however, several prize “catches” including a two foot long Bluefish. 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 each person left the boat and made their way back to “terra firma,” they thanked the Steinbergs for a wonderful experience, made their way back to the bus, and within short order were on their way back to Brooklyn. There is little question that everyone was filled with memories of a wonderful end-of-summer experience.