Ethan J. Shapiro of West Hills, New York, will become a Bar Mitzvah in January, 2017.
For his Mitzvah Project, he held a bowling fundraiser on October 23, 2016, at Plainview Bowl in Plainview, New York, to help raise money for the programs offered at the Family Center for Autism located in Garden City, New York.
The Family Center for Autism is Long Island’s first venue that provides services and programs to people with autism, and support to families with a full range of therapeutic, educational, social, recreational, vocational services and respite and social opportunities to their parents, siblings and other family members.
Pictured L-R: Tina Moreno, Community Relations Director, Family Center for Autism, Soon-to-be Bar Mitzvah boy Ethan Shapiro and Mary Rafferty, Assistant Executive Director of Residential Services at Life’s WORC.
We asked Ethan a few questions about his Mitzvah Project:
MM: Why did you decide to take on this particular project?
ES: After attending many functions to raise money for The Family Center for Autism over the past few years, I decided I wanted to try to be an active participant in the process. My family and I thought we could have a bowling fundraiser since I love to bowl. We visited the center a few weeks ago and it was amazing. They had a beautiful kitchen to teach cooking, a wonderful art room to do beautiful projects in, a music room and even a video gaming area with instructors for each class. The works of art by some of the students were on display and I was very impressed. I thought how important it is for the families and their children to have activities to participate in where the can feel like they belong. The classes are attended by different age groups and even their siblings can join them in activities. Many families cannot afford to attend these classes and that’s where we come in.
MM: Can you give us details of your Mitzvah Project?
ES: The bowling event took place on October 23, 2016, at Plainview Bowl in Plainview, New York. Many of my friends and family came to support me. The planning started weeks ago as I went around with my Mom Vita to collect donations from local businesses for the raffle baskets. We also worked with our friend and neighbor, Tina Moreno, who is Director of Community Relations for The Family Center for Autism and together we put together almost 40 baskets to raffle off to raise money for the center. It took many long hours to make the baskets but it was all worth it in the end. My living room turned into a crafting center and basket central! We had a great turnout of friends, family, co-workers, camp friends, school friends and my bowling teammates and their families. Everyone had a great time and they all knew that the money spent was going directly to help families attend programs at the Autism Center that could otherwise not afford it. I had no idea when we started my Mitzvah Project that there would be so many hours involved in putting together a function like this, but I found out that in most cases, people are generous by nature and if they could help, they would. I also found out how lucky I am to have wonderful parents and a wonderful home to live in and that I know if I need anything all I have to do is ask for it which is not the case with the families that belong to the Center. Every day is a challenge for them, even for the simplest things like being able to communicate or having someone give them a hug.
Ethan, standing next to event signage had a great time bowling as did all the participants
MM: How did you spread the word about this event?
ES: I worked on a poster and my parents Vita and Mark Shapiro collected donations from local businesses and spoke to members of the community who donated amazing raffles and great prizes.
MM: In your own words, what does it mean to you to do a Mitzvah Project for your Bar Mitzvah?
ES: I hope this will also inspire others to use their Bat or Bar Mitzvah community service projects to raise money and donate to important causes close to home. When it was all over, everyone had a great time bowling and more importantly we raffled off all the baskets and raised over $1500.00 for the Family Center for Autism which will definitely help some families attend classes they otherwise could not afford.
MM: Anything else we need to know about your Bar Mitzvah project?
ES: : If you could not attend our Bowling for Autism afternoon, you can still make a “tax deductible” contribution to The Family Center for Autism. I just want to thank my Mom for her inspiration to understand why it’s important to feel good about myself by giving to others who are less fortunate and I really want to thank Tina Moreno who helped organize and co-ordinate the event.
We thank Ethan and the Shapiro family for sharing this great Project with our readers.