Giving His All
At the end of May, some of Justin Givner’s classmates at Morristown Beard School followed their passions to fishing and other hobbies for their senior project, a three-week immersion at the conclusion of their senior year of high school. Justin chose to spend his three weeks interning at LifeTown. “I love what they do and the facility is beautiful and serves such a great purpose. The work they do there with people with special needs is amazing,” he said.
It shouldn’t have surprised anyone. He’s been volunteering for the Friendship Circle since he started high school. And while at first, he needed to fill a high school community service requirement, it quickly transformed into a passion.
“Everyone cares about every person who walks through the door,” said Justin. “A kid walks in and everyone says, ‘Oh, hi so and so!” Everyone knows everyone’s name and what they like to do.”
Justin, initially drawn to the Friendship Circle because he has a brother with autism, has a gift for engaging kids on the spectrum. “I know what it’s like to have to go an extra mile to relate to someone,” he said. “I just see what they are interested in and ask about that.”
Throughout his high school career and particularly during this past year, he volunteered at the Sunday Torah Circle and during the week on movie nights. He became so close with his buddy Julian, that they plan to meet outside of Friendship Circle for lunch.
His internship weeks provided a new perspective. Instead of serving as a buddy during activities, he worked in the office and helped set up programs. He said yes to each task that came his way, from shopping to moving chairs for programs to delivering cheesecake for Shavuot. He walked away with some practical experience, from what it takes behind the scenes for programs to run smoothly to the role of communication and chemistry among administrators, he said.
After graduation, you may find him volunteering at the Friendship Circle while also working as a counselor at an area day camp, before he heads off to Bryant University in Rhode Island.
And even when he is in college there is no doubt he’ll be back. As Justin said, “It’s so fulfilling to be a part of LifeTown!”