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Letters of Admiration, Words From the Heart-Over the Years, Tender Notes to Hamaspik Express Parental and Family Gratitude

It’s a side of Hamaspik not widely reported.  But those on the front lines and behind the scenes at the agency widely testify to it.

 

It begins where the job description ends.  It hardly ends there.

 

It’s the letters and messages of thanks for the caring and compassion, the devotion and dedication, the long overtime hours and the love, that Hamaspik staff has received over the years.

 

Sometimes they come in the form of flowery notes (and not-infrequently, complete with flower-bordered stationery, too).  Sometimes they’re simpler, more reserved printed letters.

 

Sometimes they’re anonymous.

 

Other times, they come in the form of voice mails (with callers sometimes not identifying themselves), with charged voices pouring out their hearts’ gratitude for a Hamaspik program.

 

Sometimes that program will be the annual Shabbaton weekend retreat, both those for parents and, more recently, those for children.  Sometimes it’s Hamaspik’s Camp Neshoma program.  Other times, it’s a concert and outing for individual supported by Hamaspik and their families.

 

And other times, and not-uncommonly, either, it’ll be a mother, sister, aunt or other relative sharing their deepest feelings of appreciation for a developmental breakthrough engendered by a Hamaspik support—a game-changing first for a child with autism, a desperately-needed service for a beloved little girl in dire straits.

 

One longtime Hamaspik of Kings County employee is one of the many reasons for those letters.

 

Spend time on the phone with her, and you’re sure to hear the rollercoaster of emotionally-charged effort that every Hamaspik support staffer invests in her charges as par for the course—efforts that could easily be recorded as books, with chapters of advocacy spanning months.

 

The staffer conveys an ongoing tale of hope against heartache and forcing doors open where all seemed locked.  The lengths that she and her fellow Hamaspik front-liners will go for their “kids” are downright inspiring—not just fighting through nine yards of paperwork to secure proper Medicaid and Social Security designations for children with special needs, but even recruiting communal charities to help.

 

It’s no wonder that Mrs. Chedva Freund, MSC, another agency mainstay with a marked aversion to sleep, was the recent recipient of the letter shown here.  It was Mrs. Freund, after all, who tactfully insisted that the subject of the letter attend a Hamaspik family carnival—with the initial reticence of the little princess’s family transformed into appreciation after the event.

 

In and in between its lines, Hamaspik’s most genuine love and caring—one that strikes at the heart of the agency, and that of its every employee—is anything but lost on the writer.

 

But such letters are frequently addressed to a number of Hamaspik employees both old and new, many of whom have immediate family members affected by disability.

 

Those letters come from people who know.  And they’re written to those who’ve been there.

 

One such person who’s been there is agency original Mrs. Brenda Katina, the veritable face of Hamaspik to so many and hands-down the driving force behind its flagship Family Care program—today the largest non-profit Family Care provider in New York State.

 

As one of Hamaspik’s first four employees, Mrs. Katina (and husband Mr. Chaim Mendel Katina) shepherded Family Care from an unknown resource into a community powerhouse—not just putting beautiful children with special needs into loving homes or putting Hamaspik on the map, but finding a place for children with special needs in an entire community’s collective heart.

 

It’s no wonder that that heart has responded over the decades in kind, with the Katinas receiving endless letters of love and messages form the heart, thanking them for what the Hamaspik dynamic duo did and does for them, be they Family Care providers or biological parents.  “I have stacks of letters from parents,” Mrs. Katina confesses.

 

But every Hamaspik MSC will tell you that what’s true for Mr. and Mrs. Katina (themselves the proud parents of several beautiful children with special needs), and a loving devotion reciprocated in writing, is true for them, too.

 

The late-night phone calls.  The wrenching tears.  The untamed laughter.  The despair.  The magic.  The relationships that are far more friend-to-friend and sister-to-sister than staff to client. 

 

Hence the voice mails, the letters, the notes, and the pretty little missives and poems capturing something that even words don’t quite do justice.

 

Mrs. Freund and the others will tell you that this is just what they do.

 

But with the Hamaspik staff family having won an indelible place in their hearts, the parents and family members behind those messages will tell you that conveying them is the least they can do.