Voices Will Be Heard at Shema Kolainu Legislative Breakfast
By Ezra Friedlander
On Tuesday July 9, 2013 Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices, a school and center for Children with Autism, will host their 11th Annual Legislative Breakfast at the Renaissance Ballroom located at 5902 14th in Brooklyn, New York at 8:15 AM.
Fifteen years ago, Shema Kolainu opened its doors to three young school children - the first school and center of its kind. Today, hundreds of children benefit from Shema Kolainu's center and home based services and programs.
Founder and President Dr. Joshua Weinstein declared, "It is a remarkable feat accomplished only with Hashem's help and guidance." Dr. Weinstein will be at the breakfast offering a warm welcome to all those active champions of Autism awareness.
The Annual Shema Kolainu legislative breakfast was created to educate legislators about the urgency of Autism care and research, raise support and awareness and share ideas about working toward combating Autism through effective public policy and legislation. Communal leaders, civic and religious leaders, community philanthropists, and elected officials will be in attendance to pay tribute to several outstanding public officials and community leaders for their dedication in furthering the mission of Shema Kolainu. These featured leaders have proven their dedication to increasing educational opportunities for children with Autism spectrum disorders.
Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer and former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, will deliver remarks at the legislative breakfast, along with various officials. This year's breakfast will recognize several powerful, influential, and compassionate members of the community including:
Preston Niblack, NYC City Council Finance Director, will be awarded with the City Legislative Leadership Award for his outstanding leadership of this vital agency to the non-profit community. Due to Mr. Niblack's sensitive support efforts to support those with Autism, organizations like Shema Kolainu are able to fulfill their mission to children and their families. NYC Speaker Christine Quinn will present the award.
Chief Thomas M. Chan, the newly appointed Chief of Community Affairs for the NYPD, will be awarded with the Community Appreciation Award for his continued service to the communities of New York City. He has served in most of New York's five boroughs and has done well to bridge the gap between New York's police department and the communities in which they serve.
Brad Gerstman, Esq, Co-Founder of Gotham Government Relations & Communications, is being honored and presented with the Austim Awareness and Appreciation Award. Mr. Gerstman has exemplified his involvement in the Autism community for years. He currently serves as Co-Founder of the Lisa Beth Gerstman Foundation, a family foundation that provides summer camp experiences to children with physical and developmental disabilities.
WABC-TV's Diana Williams will deliver a greeting to those active in the Autism community. Ms. Williams, a highly popular TV anchor is a longtime friend of Shema Kolainu and visited the school where she has witnessed the strong bond between its teachers and staff.
Patti S. Lubin, Senior Advisor and Senior Counsel to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will receive the National Autism Advocacy Award in grateful appreciation for her commitment to the autism community. Patti Lubin works directly with Senator Gillibrand who has been a tireless advocate in the Senate, fighting for quality affordable care for children and families living with the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder and investing in new research that will benefit the lives of millions. Senator Gillibrand has co-sponsored the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, which would provide funding for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and would re-authorize the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to coordinate all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services concerning autism.
Carolyn Gehl Fefferman, Esq, Senior Advisor to Senator Robert Menendez, will be receiving the National Autism Advocacy Award in recognition of Senator Menendez's strong advocacy for Autism at the federal legislative level. The Senator's office continues to fight for the passing of laws that give assistance to the autistic community. Senator Robert Menendez has led the Senate on the issues that face individuals on the autism spectrum. The Senator introduced The Helping HANDS for Autism Act in 2008. This legislation guides families seeking services and care, increase public awareness and provide for appropriate housing options for adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Senator Menendez has been a leader on efforts such as the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, where he was able to overcome steadfast opposition that allowed the bill to become law.
Traditionally, the breakfast features a community based organization. Pesha Elias Bikur Cholim D'Bobov, under the leadership of Rabbi Yitzchok Fleischer and Rabbi Benzion Spielman, has helped thousands of sick patients in hospitals by directing financial assistance to underwrite medical procedures for the uninsured and providing medical equipment at no cost.
Investors Bank, a leading community based bank, will sponsor the breakfast.
The Friedlander Group, a government public-relations firm, is coordinating this momentous event, as they have in years past, to properly recognize many of the unsung heroes in the advocating of autism awareness.
Allison Schlissel contributed reporting.