ON JUNE 10, more than 400 people gathered at Two River Theater in Red Bank to honor the teen volunteers of Hand in Hand, an organization sponsored by Chabad of the Shore in Long Branch that supports special-needs children and their families.
Honorees were Phyllis and Harvey Katz of Long Branch and Louisa and Marc Liechtung of Wayside. New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno offered a tribute to the volunteers.
Guest speaker Adria Glass of Ocean, mother of two autistic children, told how Hand in Hand brought her family companionship, friendship, and joy. “It is simply priceless to see our children playing and laughing with their special friends in our house and experiencing what friendship is really like. It makes my heart sing and touches my soul,” she said.
“The impact these teens are making on the lives of so many families is phenomenally heartwarming,” said Chabad of the Shore director Rabbi Laibel Schapiro.
Keith Krivitzky, executive director of Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, said, “Hand in Hand enables young Jews to connect with the Jewish community while embodying the value of how all Israel should be responsible for one another.”
Hand in Hand volunteer Alan Menaged of Elberon told the gathering, “I like to think that my friend Irwin and I are helping Michael almost as much as he is helping us. At the end of the day, friendship is reciprocal. We give Michael our hands, and he gives us his.”
Lisa Karasic of Fair Haven said that when her daughters, Katie and Clara Eskwitt, volunteer, “they are totally dedicated to ‘being there.’ There are so few times in a teenager’s life when they put away their phones and focus on being in the moment. It’s even more special they get to do it with someone they truly admire and care about.”
Mike Stamer of Rumson, father of two volunteers, Hannah and Samantha, said Hand in Hand “makes the world a better place. The special-needs kids enjoy real friendship and camaraderie, and the volunteers get that incredible feeling of helping somebody.”
Hand in Hand is a beneficiary organization of the federation. Visit hhnj.org or or call 732-229-2424.