OHEL’s Annual Legislative Breakfast Draws Public and Community-Wide Supporters as OHEL Looks to Summer Opening of the New OHEL Jaffa Family Campus
by Derek Saker
Policy makers, elected officials, advocates and community activists gathered for OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services‘ 4thÂ Annual Legislative Breakfast on Friday morning, March 31stÂ The event strove to acknowledge the breadth of services and the impact OHEL makes in various communities and further break down various stigmas that often impede the decision to get help in the community. (www.ohelfamily.org/)
Opening remarks were made by Annette Rubin, an OHEL Board member. Accompanied in support of OHEL were Co-Presidents of OHEL Moishe Hellman and Mel Zachter, as well as David Mandel, CEO of OHEL. The MC, well known NBC Anchor David Price, spoke about “the critical importance of OHEL in the community,” and the vital work provided – often under the radar screen.
Keynote speakers included former NYS Governor David Paterson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield, as well as Councilmen Mark Levine, Rory Lancman and Vincent Gentile.
David Mandel, CEO used the opportunity to announce the launch of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services’ new Calendar, “Look Beyond: Celebrating the beauty of us all.” The groundbreaking calendar was created with world-famous fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, and is a celebration of the lives of some of uniquely wonderful individuals diagnosed with Autism that OHEL Bais Ezra has the deeply entrusted and rewarding responsibility to care for. As David Mandel echoed “Disability transcends gender, age, religion, level of ability and socioeconomic status and it is OHEL’s responsibility, to ensure a more inclusive community where every individual can contribute and thrive to the best of his or her abilities.”
Former NY Governor Paterson who is legally blind, spoke movingly about overcoming his disability as a child. He shared his experience of stigmatization, but also regaining his self-esteem, and his devotion to the betterment of others, through public service. The former Governor compared yesteryear to both the resources available today and a community far more inclusive and understanding of various disabilities. A testimony to both NY and organizations like OHEL that have been at the forefront of such transformational change.
The morning culminated in a presentation of an award of appreciation to NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield for his tireless efforts on behalf of the community and long-time friend and supporter of OHEL and especially the New OHEL Jaffa Family Campus opening Summer 2017 in his district of Flatbush. Councilman Greenfield articulated that the reason he so passionately supports OHEL” is because time and time again they deliver. Their positive impact is immediate, tangible and transformative.”
The breakfast was hosted at Bernstein Private Wealth Management in Manhattan, NYC by Jeff Wiesenfeld, Principal of Bernstein. The event was coordinated by The Friedlander Group. OHEL extends its thanks to the many public officials, OHEL Board members and other benefactors in attendance, who displayed their support for OHEL and the many causes the organization provides and addresses.