This past week, 8 Kislev, saw Melbourne’s Friendship Circles’ inaugural volunteer award evening, entitled “5000 hours of Giving,” held at the Glen Eira Town Hall.
The evening was attended by well over 500 people from all corners of Melbourne’s Jewish community. Over 100 volunteers received the Friendship Circles’ Volunteer appreciation award.
The evening opened with the welcome address by Robbie Rubenstein, an FC child thanking the FC directors Rabbi Mordy and Elisheva Engel and program director Chaya Sziewicz. The resounding applause could be heard miles away. This was followed by a drama performance put on by the participants of the Drama Club. All eyes were fixed on centre stage as the Friendship Circle children re-enacted “a Week in the life of Friendship Circle,” which incorporated acting out the activities of the self defense, sports, arts and craft, bingo and dance clubs.
The highlight of the evening was a 10 minute video on the activities of Melbourne’s Friendship Circle. Professor Bebe Loff, a parent at Friendship Circle who heads a medical Department at Monash University, gave a parent response speech. Professor Loff noted that while the Australian Government spends millions and millions of dollars on research in her department, that may only one day achieve results, she has witnessed amazing results firsthand, with her daughter Orly, citing the example of how her daughter carried her own chair on stage, as part of the drama performance – something she had not witnessed her do ever before. Professor Loff noted the true need for the support of this most vital program.
In Rabbi Mordy Engel’s Volunteer recognition address it was mentioned that while volunteers weren’t paid, it wasn’t because they are worthless, but rather because they are priceless. Rabbi Engel thanked all the volunteers along with the activity coordinators, Mrs. Shira Loebenstein, Rivka Ash, Racheli Rosenzwieg and Miri Shepes.
The night culminated with a hilarious Chinese auction, as Melbourne’s noted auctioneer, Mr. Barry Feldman brought the entire audience to fits of laughter as he auctioned off Shabbos at Rabbi Mordy’s, with bids starting at $1,000.
As Bar Levin, a young adult in the Friendship Circle, left the hall, he urged Rabbi Mordy Engel “to please continue making programs for us to help us.”