Building Hope One Step at a Time
In what has become annual summer tradition for Friendship Circle and the greater community, dozens of people participated in “Backpacks & Brunch,” a mitzvah project to benefit FC kids.
“Backpacks & Brunch” provides school bags stuffed with supplies for the children of Friendship Circle. Volunteers are given the name, age and interest of a Friendship Circle Junior participant. They then go back-to-school shopping on the youngster’s behalf. The backpacks are distributed to FC kids at Allie’s Summer Camp in August.
This year’s program included a tour of nearly completed LifeTown. The group had a chance to walk through the 53,000-sq.-ft. educational, recreational and life-skills center. They were blown away by all of the opportunities LifeTown will offer the community.
“I appreciate all the thought that went into making LifeTown welcoming and inclusive,” said Jody Hurwitz Caplan, president of Women’s Philanthropy at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and an FC volunteer. “I’m looking forward to stopping at LifeTown for coffee and supporting the people who are in job training. I appreciate how it’s not just busy work, but meaningful opportunities.”
Backpacks and Brunch is part of the “Volunteer Boot Camp” program sponsored by the Jewish Federation. It was through the boot camp that Victoria Shpilsky first heard about the “Backpacks & Brunch” event. She attended the program with her 12-year-old daughter Maya.
“I really wanted to see LifeTown, because I’ve heard so much about it and I wanted to share this experience with my daughter,” said Victoria. “It’s one of a kind. It’s so unique and it is great for both of us to be able to get involved and contribute.”
Maya was also excited by what she saw, and is hoping to volunteer with FC in the future. “I was amazed. There are so many options for kids and really inspiring to look at.” Maya said that her favorite space is Life Village, the simulated Main Street inside LifeTown, because “it helps kids learn real life.”
For Lisa Gutkin, who founded “Backpacks & Brunch” around her kitchen table a number of years ago, getting to see LifeTown “just reaffirms to me the incredible dedication of the Friendship Circle team and their understanding of what the community needs. Having an uncle with special needs, I think about what an amazing opportunity this would have been for my Bubbie and my uncle.
“I hope that others who won’t have to struggle like my Bubbie,” Gutkin continued. “I walk in LifeTown and I see hope for the world and hope for people who need a little extra help.”