Honoring its corps of teenage volunteers and Joan and Bob Rechnitz of Red Bank for their continuing support as major donors, Hand in Hand held its annual tribute dinner at the Two River Theater in Red Bank — which the Rechnitzes founded — in late June.
Hand in Hand, a program of Chabad of the Shore, recruits teen volunteers to work with children with special needs and offers recreational and outreach programs for those children and their families.
The organization “teaches the value of giving and encourages an uplifting community support system,” said Chabad of the Shore director Rabbi Laibel Schapiro, leading participants to “sharpen their inner channels of love and sensitivity. It’s about enabling each child to discover his or her unique potential and having that potential shine in the most radiant way.” Referring to the teen volunteers, he said, “These very special young men and women are the true heroes of the program.”
“It is inspiring to see the amazing effect these teenagers have on the children — serving as mentors, role models, and best of pals,” said Bob Rechnitz.
At the event, Sharon Betesh of West Long Branch spoke about her experience as a volunteer. She and fellow volunteer Gabrielle Franco of Oakhurst make weekly visits to Hannah, a 17-year-old with special needs. “I was so eager to get to know Hannah, but I did not fully comprehend the impact she and her family would have on my life,” said Sharon.
“Hannah has taught me how to value every moment and see the positive in every situation. Hannah is someone I look up to. She is truly my role model. Hannah revitalizes us. Her warm embraces and sweet disposition bring comfort to our lives. She inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves.”
The event featured entertainment by speed painter Dan Dunn.