April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Mothers of Children With Special Needs Enjoy ‘Day of Pampering’ at HASC Center/Friendship Circle Event

“Welcome to your awesome day of pampering,” the invitation to the event read.

About 50 attendees arrived at the Mansion at Lawrence recently for an event, sponsored by HASC Center and organized as a team effort of HASC Center and Friendship Circle, that focused on giving mothers of special needs children a social outing, gourmet food and a general good time.

HASC or Hebrew Academy for Special Children provides a wide range of supportive services to individuals with special needs. They have been around since 1963. Friendship Circle creates meaningful relationships and friendships between teen volunteers and children with special needs.

This event was the first time the groups collaborated. It took two months of planning to put on the retreat, which ran from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

When each mother walked into the Mansion she received a cheerful welcome, a name tag and a poem that was tailored for the day.

It said, “Most of her days | She spends quiet and content | Thanking Hashem | For the Brocha He sent | But every once in a while | A concern does arise | A harrowing day…”

It continued, “Enjoy this short respite | This day we have planned… We look forward to being there | Whenever you’re in need | with our support services | It’s Friendship Circle and HASC indeed!”

“We want to serve anyone who has a child with special needs,” Bracha Lavrinoff, the family support coordinator at HASC, said. She has worked at HASC for 12 years.

As part of the retreat the attendees received an allotted time when they would have a 20-minute massage to soothing music. They also were given an appointment for a consultation with a HASC member who would discuss the multiple resources the organization provides to special needs adults and children.

HASC resources include a medical center, residential services, day habilitation, community habilitation, family support, a summer camp, vocational programs and self direction. The services are geared towards individuals of all ages who have speech, learning or motor limitations as well as children with behavioral challenges.

Tammy (a pseudonym) is one of the mothers who attended the event. She discovered that she had a child with special needs while she was attending Adelphi for a graduate program in special education. Raising a special needs child is “fun” she said. Her family is like any other, but some things can be different. Tammy also said that having a child with special needs enables her to be better at her job.

“I was able to speak to parents in a way they could understand because I have a special needs child,” she said.

About the event, she said, “It’s really nice to meet this amazing group of women.”

The event was open to women of all ages who are from the Far Rockaway and Long Island areas. The ages of attendees ranged from 20s to 60s.

Even though the women came from all kinds of backgrounds and were a range of ages, Tammy felt that she could “let her guard down” and just be comfortable with them as if they already knew each other.

The moms were given sweatbands and melted calories using trampolines, pom-poms and hoops that lit up in the dark when the lights were dimmed. They danced, bounced and huffed and puffed to loud, upbeat music.

It can be hard to be a mom of a child with special needs. Community, friendship and fun can make things easier. In addition to pampering the ladies, the organizers, and speakers such as Dr. Rayzel Yaish, focused on peppering the sessions with positivity and spiritually uplifting words of encouragement.

“Cheer for yourself. You did it ladies,” the fitness instructor said.

The mini-retreat ended with comedy, a Torah class and a kumzitz.

Thank you to Bracha Lavrinoff, Beilu Freund, Devorah Kahn, Miriam Nemetzky, Suri Taub, Chava Miriam Zell of HASC Center and to Batsheva Borenstein and Rocheli Lavrinoff of the Friendship Circles for making this amazing event a huge success.

By Hannah Grossman

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