Hand in Hand, an organization of Chabad of the Shore that sponsors recreational and outreach programs for children with special needs, held its annual tribute dinner at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.
Featuring entertainment by Grammy Award-winning Israeli-born violinist Miri Ben-Ari, the evening in late June honored the teens who volunteer for Hand in Hand as well as Dr. Glenn and Elaine Parker and Dr. Russell and Ellen Ashinoff. Among the dignitaries and community leaders in attendance were Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who served as dinner chair.
Chabad of the Shore director Rabbi Laibel Schapiro said Hand in Hand “helps people sharpen their inner channels of love and sensitivity. It’s about turning up the volume on our extrasensory capabilities in response to the cries of children with special needs. It’s about enabling each child to discover his or her unique potential and having that potential shine in the most radiant way.”
“It is inspiring to see the amazing effect these teenagers have on the children — serving as mentors, role models, and best of pals,” said the Parkers, whose son Mitchel is a volunteer. “Seeing how much Mitchel has gained from this experience, we’re not sure who’s benefiting more — our Mitchel or his special friend. He has undoubtedly become a much more mature, patient, sensitive, and selfless person since joining Hand in Hand.”
Teen volunteer Elizabeth Roberts of West Allenhurst and her friend Hannah Stamer of Rumson make weekly visits to David, an eight-year-old with special needs. “I was so eager to get to know David but I did not fully comprehend the impact he and his family would have on my life,” said Elizabeth. “David has redefined the meaning of the word friendship for me and Hannah.”
“Each week David welcomes us with open arms and a forgiving heart,” she continued. “He revitalizes us. His warm embraces and sweet disposition bring comfort to our lives. He inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves.”
About the young volunteers, Schapiro said, “These very special young men and women are the true heroes of the program.”