VFC 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Event
On Sunday, the 26th of May, the Valley Friendship Circle hosted a beautiful and entertaining Volunteer Appreciation Event for all of the dedicated volunteers at the Studio City home of Rabbi Yossi & Chanie Baitelman.
The tables were set beautifully with canvases as centerpieces illustrated by Alisha Tal depicting the theme "The Art of Giving" through an art pallet with the VFC logo. The volunteers enjoyed a full BBQ buffet, smoothies and a delectable logo-themed cake. It began with a video showing the many activities and events that the VFC has done throughout their 11 years in the San Fernando Valley.
Mrs. Chanie Baitelman, Director of the Valley Friendship Circle, shared a meaningful message. At one point she compared the impact the volunteers make upon the lives of their special friends and their families to a beautiful masterpiece, “the natural strokes you paint within the heart of another human being, the bright colors you add to their days, the patience you know it takes to create something with commitment and compassion, all blend together to form the most powerful message that has no words.”
Then, Moshe Branz, master illusionist and magician awed everyone present with card tricks, telepathy and above all with his metal bending ability. Moshe took the average fork and spoon and bent them with hot energy from his hands leaving everyone stunned!
An interlude with 8 year old Shneur Baitelman singing “My Friend,” composed by Moshe Hecht especially encompassed what the Friends @ Home program is all about.
One of the highlights of the entire program was meeting the affable and talented Andy Choueke – multi-media Artist. Andy has autism and is an incredible artist with amazing talent. He can draw anything flawlessly in just a couple of minutes! His mom, Susan, described his work as she displayed one after another of his intricate pieces. Andy's G-d given talents and capabilities reaffirmed everyone's belief in their abilities and in what they are doing as a Friendship Circle volunteer.
All volunteers were honored, and an additional award was given to those graduating High School. A special gift of handmade jewelry was presented to Tamar and Rachel Cohen on behalf of one of the VFC participants, 13 year old Jeremy Bernstein, recipient of the 2012 Naturally Autistic People Award who will be assisting in their new project: The VFC Entrepreneurs Club. The Cohen sisters have dedicated time and effort to their special friends and VFC even after they’ve left High School through College and beyond. All the volunteers also received metal link strap watches with the VFC logo on it.
The event ended with a heartwarming message of one volunteer’s life-changing experience by Judy Leserman. Not only did Judy find meaning in the connection she made with her special friend throughout her High School years, she also found a greater connection to Judaism through the Valley Friendship Circle experience – changing from Public School to a Jewish High School two years ago.
The entire event was truly meaningful and inspiring. It was simply a great way to show appreciation and importance to each volunteer who put in countless hours to be a friend to kids, teens and young adults with special needs.
For the upcoming year, the Valley Friendship Circle has some exciting new programs, and two remarkable women on board. Marla Feinberg and Amy Leserman are helping plan many more opportunities for our programs, teens and families. We can’t wait to experience another amazing year with VFC.
By Adina Schuller (VFC Volunteer)
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