An overflow crowd filled the elegant El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn last Sunday for the Annual Dinner of BINA Stroke and Brain Injury Assistance. Honored at the gala event were Dr. Steven Kirshblum, Senior Medical Officer at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey, who was presented with the Physician Leadership Award; Natalie and David Batalion, longtime friends and supporters of BINA, who received the Visionary Partners Award; and Elchanan Schwarz, Director of Crisis Intervention at BINA and well-deserving recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award.
The program was opened by Josh Mehlman, Dinner Chairman, who welcomed the crowd and introduced Avi Schron to speak about the unique work of BINA from his perspective as a member of the Board of Directors. He explained that the organization must be allowed to grow because there are still so many people requiring assistance, and described the kindness and caring of the director of BINA, Chavie Glustein and her staff. Alluding to the evening’s theme, he concluded that the “Heart and Mind” of BINA is totally dedicated to the individuals who turn to them for help.
The awards were then presented by Naftali Horowitz, Chairman of the Board of Directors, following video presentations in which family, friends and colleagues talked with great emotion and sincerity about the honorees and their dedication to BINA and the community.
Upon accepting his award, Dr. Steven Kirshblum expressed his gratitude to all those who had assembled in his honor. He then discussed the effect of technology on society, stating that the same technology that has helped ease our lived can also disconnect us. He explained that it limits our human control and face-to-face interactions, and that our physical presence and personal touch are more important than ever, especially when it comes to illness.
Dr. Kirshblum compared the limbs and organs of the human body to the unique roles of all those who care for a patient following an illness or injury. The hospital team of physicians, nurses and administrators are the brain, and also the hands, that carry out the techniques and treatments. He thanked his colleagues at Kessler who deliver these skills with compassion and empathy and stated that nothing is more important than acting with care and sensitivity, day after day.
The members of the West Orange community, who Dr. Kirshblum described as “chesed exemplified”, were described as the legs, walking to Kessler on Shabbos to form a minyan, and visiting the patients and families to offer their assistance and anticipating their every need, all done with heart.
Dr. Kirshblum then stated that Chavie Glustein represents the soul, and has the commitment and knowledge to understand the individuality of each family whose lives and worlds have suddenly been turned upside down, and help them find direction and hope. He added that Mrs. Glustein is also the voice that gives comfort and advocates so well on the families’ behalf, always with respect, derech eretz and professionalism, and concluded, “You are the backbone of the organization.”
In closing, Dr. Kirshblum thanked the audience for stepping forward and embracing the opportunity to make a difference, and stated that everyone who came to support BINA is providing the lifeblood and energy that allows the organization to exist and serve those in need of their help.
The final speaker was Rabbi Aaron Gancz who described his personal experiences following the devastating illness of a close family member. He stated the staff of BINA not only has the knowledge to offer priceless guidance and advice but also a binah yeseirah, extra measure of understanding, of what families go through. He concluded by appealing to the crowd to provide BINA with the necessary support to allow them to continue giving.