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August 02, 2002 - Image 35

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Overcoming
Autism
With Art,
Friendship

Friends
In Deed

Friendship Circle receives
$244,000 through
fraternal order's efforts.

ERICA DAVIS
Special to the Jewish News

he Friendship Circle
has found a very help-
ful friend.
At its annual din-
ner at the Renaissance Center
Marriott attended by 900 on
May 29, the West Bloomfield-
based Friendship Circle
received a $122,000 donation
from the Foresters, a non-
Jewish fraternal benefit society.
The donation matches
$122,000 raised last November
at a fund-raising dinner the
Foresters sponsored for the
Friendship Circle. The match-
ing donation raised the total to
$244,000 received through the
efforts of the Foresters.
The Friendship Circle was
founded in 1994 by Rabbi Levi
Shemtov, director, and his
wife, Bassie Shemtov, program
director, in affiliation with the
Lubavitch Foundation. The
circle provides assistance and
support to families with chil-
dren with special needs — as
well as to individuals and fami-
lies struggling with addiction,
isolation and other crises.

T

Volunteer Roots

Through the Morrie and Sybil
Fenkell Volunteer Club, volun-
teers aged 12-18 donate at least
an hour-and-a-half a week to
each child. Currently, 360
individuals help nearly 100
families.
The Foresters' $122,000 gift
came through its matching
funds program.
"This is a great story," said
Gary Deschenes, Foresters'
regional director of sales in
Detroit. "It's a real illustration

ERICA DAVIS
Special to the Jewish News

••

From top:
Rabbi E.B.
"Bunny
Freedman
hands the
microphone to
Bassie Shemtov
after the
crowd sang
"Happy
Birthday" to
her.

Abayai
Sherman, 14, of
Oak Park and
Eric and Robin
Zucker of
Pleasant Ridge
stand with Scott
Zucker, 10, as
he shows them a
collection of his
artwork.

Col. Jacob
Goldstein offers
a prayer for
Israeli and
American
soldiers.

Tom Hudson o
Flint, Aeon
Kaufinan
of West
Bloomfield,
Rabbi Levi
Shemtov of West
Bloomfield and
Mike White
of Toronto
hold onto an
enlarged,
mock-version
of the donated
check.

May 29, , 02

trb

,iship Circ1e

OftEttg

One hun

Foresters

f

itti4,44,‘

Scott Zucker, a 10-year-old child
with autism, understands the
power of friendship.
His mother, Robin, says the
family had no support system
when she called Bassie Shemtov,
program director of the
Friendship Circle, whose volun-
teers gave their time to Scott and
the Zucker family. "Now, we feel
like we're floating instead of sink-
ing," Robin says.
Scott's natural artistic talent,
encouraged by his parents, flour-
ished with the new attention. "Art
is big in the family," says Robin.
Scott was able to showcase his
art at the dinner. "A supporter
bought his art. They paid for his
supplies. He gets calls at home
now," says Robin.
Scott spent five weekends at the
Chicago Institute of Art last sum-
mei-, and he has an open invita-
tion to attend in the fall.
Scott's artwork was an impor-
tant part of the Friendship
Circle's recent annual dinner.
"He's an. autistic child who's a
phenomenal artist. We gave them
the opportunity to sell art, so he
could learn at art camps with the
money that came in," says Rabbi
Levi Shemtov, Friendship Circle
director.
Before his -involvement with the
Friendship Circle, Scott. did not
talk. Now, when asked what this
organization means to him, the
10-year-old replies with enthusi-
asm, "The Friendship Circle is
cool!" ❑

For information on the
Friendship Circle, to make a
donation or become a volun-
teer, call Rabbi Levi Shemtov
at (248) 788-7878 or access
the Web site at:
www.friendshipcircle.com

Memo: Matching Funds

FRIENDS IN DEED on page 36

8/ 2
2002

35

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