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Happenings around Hamaspik

Arcadian Briderheim Residents Gear Up for Purim


It may be after Purim as you’re reading this.


But it is on Thursday, February 8 that your humble Gazette editor is writing this.


In other words, it’s well before Purim.


Fairly early to be writing an article about Purim, you may think.


But for Manager Shlomo Lebowitz and crew at Hamaspik of Rockland County’s Arcadian Briderheim residence (and pretty much every other Hamaspik residence), a month out is just the right time to be gearing up for the madcap holiday of Purim.


That’s why Messrs. Lebowitz, Fried, Goldberger and Gottesman (sounds like a law office, doesn’t it?) have been helping residents get into gear for Purim.


They’ve been doing so by taking the time to sit down with individual residents one-on-one, slowly turning pages of costume and goodie-package catalogs.


The former revolves around the Purim custom of going in costume, while the latter is based on the ancient tradition of presenting family and friends with edible gifts come Purim.


Keeping residents involved and on the front lines of community interaction is an ironclad tradition at Arcadian (and every other Hamaspik residence, of course).  Besides being person-centered, it’s also mainstream-centered and belonging-centered.


And at Purim across Hamaspik, mainstream-centered and belonging-centered means two things: dressing down in giddy get-ups, like everyone else, and feting family and friends with food, also like everyone else.


And in the Purim spirit, it’s worthwhile to now needlessly and nonsensically note that dressing as food falls squarely within the letter of the Purim spirit.


Standing By, a Part of a Tender New Life

Talk about being a part of every part of community life! 

The gentlemen of Hamaspik of Rockland County’s Day Hab program are very much a part of the ecosystem of their home community, regularly attending synagogue and shopping local business.

On top of that, their Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) see them more as friends and family than disconnected clients that they leave and forget about at each day’s end.

Over the years, “Day Habbers” have thus attended no shortage of weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, baby namings and other staff family milestones. 


Most recently, the gentlemen were graciously invited to visit the home of one of their very own DSPs who became a proud father. 

The baby boy surely shared his father’s joy as the young men stood around his bassinet to recite the traditional “Shma Yisroel” credo—and the young men felt, as they indeed should, that they were a part of the little lad’s new life.


Marking Tu B’Shvat “Jewish Arbor Day” holiday, Hamaspik gets back to roots

January 31st marked not just the ushering out of one of coldest months on recent record, but the ushering in of the Jewish New Year for Trees.

The 15th day of the Jewish-calendar month of Shvat (“Tu B’Shvat”) is traditionally celebrated by enjoying the “Seven Species” associated with the Holy Land.

Those would be wheat, barley, olives, figs, grapes, pomegranates and dates.  And in homes, synagogues and supermarkets throughout the communities serviced primarily by Hamaspik, and at programs operated by Hamaspik, samples (at least ready-to-eat specimens) were in abundance.

Like other Hamaspik of Rockland County IRAs, Concord Briderheim hosted a fruity feast for residents.  Ditto for Kings County’s 38th St. Shvesterheim.

At Hamaspik’s Day Habilitation (Day Hab) programs, the men and women supported by those also got into the day’s theme come Tu B’Shvat—assembling take-home fruit kebabs and creating organically inclined artwork.

One understanding of Tu B’Shvat is spiritually connecting with the vegetable kingdom and all of its lush beauty.  And at Hamaspik, Tu B’Shvat’s underlying message of growth wasn’t lost.


New Season, New Décor at 61st St.

Wind and snow weren’t the only things the cold season blew in come January.

 For Hamaspik of Kings County’s 61st St. Briderheim Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA), the change in outdoor climate brought with it a welcome and warm change to its indoor climate—with a full, floor-to-ceiling makeover of the residence’s entire décor.

 Everything from ceiling light fixtures to floor rugs was updated, along with the furniture between.  Residents now enjoy new beds (and linens), couches and even new blinds and drapes, and all chosen per their personal preferences via catalogs and in-person local shopping outings.


Every good homemaker will tell you that a proper home needs a freshening-up if not a full redo every good few years, thanks to the passage of time and the natural wear and tear it brings.

And with 61st being a proper Hamaspik home subject to the same wear and tear, reports affable Director of Residential Services Cheskel Fisher, it was time for an update.


Putting their Hearts Where Their Hands Are

38th St. Shvesterheim Visits Brooklyn Crafts Store

 Like so many of their typical peers, residents of Hamaspik of Kings County’s 38th St. Shvesterheim enjoy an outing every Sunday, reports Assistant Home Manager Mrs. Yona Kasnett.

And this past Sunday, Jan. 28, the girls selected an outing they could quite literally get their hands into—or, perhaps better worded, get into their hands.

Pottery and Glass Land, an artsy central Brooklyn venue for artisans of all levels, has been opening its doors for the past five years to anyone interested in decorating their home with their handiwork.  The laid-back space lets you walk in, pull up a stool, and walk out hours later bearing your own painting or handcrafted pottery masterpiece.  Staff will even help you.

The popular store on Coney Island Ave. regularly welcomes individuals and groups with disabilities, which recently included Hamaspik.

People with special needs take what they make more to heart, offers Pottery and Glass Land manager Zahava Ourfli.  Besides having more patience to lean over a painstaking painting longer than typical, “they work hard on it,” she says.  “They understand what they’re painting.”

But coming from a residence where they receive a lot of hands-on heart, that isn’t surprising.


With Hamaspik’s Help, OPWDD’s Comm Hab Programs Growing in Queens and Long Island Communities

 It’s been over two years since Hamaspik of Kings County responded to a growing number of individuals residing in Queens and Long Island by opening a satellite branch in Far Rockaway.

Spearheaded by hardworking Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC) Julie Bergmann, that office eliminated locals’ need to travel to Brooklyn for Hamaspik services—by bringing Hamaspik to them instead.

 Today, Mrs. Bergmann reports, the Queens office boasts a complement of four staffers, including the recently-hired Mrs. Yehudis Schuster handling a much-needed human resources desk (along with standard MSC duties, too).

 That desk was opened to handle a growing influx of Queens/Long Island residents seeking to call themselves Hamaspik employees—primarily as much-needed Community Habilitation (Comm Hab) providers. 

Comm Hab, a pillar program proficiently provided by Hamaspik for years, gives individuals with disabilities a one-on-one coach of sorts to help them master daily life activities and goals of their own choosing.

And with growing Hamaspik action on “the Blessed Isle,” a growing number of Long Island parents are opting for Comm Hab for their precious children from the agency—along with a growing number of residents wanting to work for the agency.

 For an agency that never stops growing, it was perhaps inevitable.

 And for an OPWDD program that well serves an increasing number of families affected by disability, Hamaspik bringing the OPWDD’s Comm Hab program to the community was only natural.