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Hamaspik Grassroots Outreach, Expansion Continues in Queens, Long Island

April 25, 2017            

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

It began in 2009 with the personal touch: one-on-one contacts, personal meetings and phone calls, and that genuine, in-person human warmth and caring that no ad campaign can replicate.

Small wonder it continues that way.

But Hamaspik’s growing foray into the numerous enclaves of Queens and Long Island reflects not just the friendliness and concern of Hamaspik MSC Julie Bergmann but of Hamaspik as a whole—of which the tireless MSC just happens to be a single example.

Hamaspik of Kings Couny’s Queens satellite office was launched in December of 2015 as a natural (and all but logistically demanded) outgrowth of Mrs. Bergmann’s years of repeated trips to the Far Rockaway and Five Towns region, where eastern Queens meets western Long Island.

For its first 12 months of operations, the Hamaspik veteran was the lone employee at 1312 Dinsmore Ave., heading up the new office with backing from MSC Supervisor Mrs. Shalva Sashitzky.  With the new place, the regional enclaves of Cedarhurst, Hewlett, Inwood, Lawrence and Woodmere, as well as Far Rockaway and Queens itself, could get local Hamaspik access.

And the caseload grew.

By the time July 2016 rolled around, it was time for a second MSC.  Enter Mrs. Yaffa Schuler.

Mrs. Schuler, who brings years of varied disability advocacy experience to the Hamaspik table, took up workday residence alongside Mrs. Bergmann, dividing the caseload but multiplying Hamaspik’s Queens and Long Island presence and effectiveness. 

“I’m extremely impressed,” Mrs. Schuler says of her new job’s professional culture of client care.  “There’s a lot of hand-holding.  Hamaspik goes all out.”

And with their continued success, MSCs Bergmann and Schuler were able to build both on their professional relationships with community members affected by disability as well as with public-sector counterparts at the Long Island DDRO, the regional office of the New York State OPWDD—so much so that they now needed an administrative superior of their own.

This past February, then, Hamaspik of Kings County Mrs. Chava Goldstein, MSC was promoted to Queens Office Supervisor (in addition to her ongoing part-time duties as a standard MSC).

It’s a long way since May of 2009, when a Brooklyn Hamaspik beneficiary moved to Long Island and brought Hamaspik along, prompting the agency’s first official approval as a services provider on the island.

Today, most of Hamaspik’s ever-increasing Long Island/Queens beneficiaries are coming to the agency via references.  “The name is out there,” Mrs. Schuler says, with new beneficiaries reporting having heard that Hamaspik “is ‘not your typical agency.’ ”

The Queens office is also working with local schools on an After-school Respite (ASR) program for students with disabilities—with staff even visiting the regional OPWDD office before this just-passed Passover holiday to distribute matzos to Hamaspik’s friends in public service.

Despite the impressive growth, Mrs. Bergmann and her compatriots haven’t lost their touch. 

“We have the heart,” Mrs. Bergmann says.  “We do things that other agencies just don’t do.”

But Mrs. Schuler has just one lighthearted complaint: “There aren’t enough hours in the day!”