2020 Student Essay Winners Announced

Founder Claire Friedlander wished to promote tolerance and understanding and as such, the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is pleased to sponsor the 5th Annual Life’s WORC and The Family Center for Autism essay contest in conjunction with Life’s WORC and Schneps Communications. All 9th-12th grade students currently enrolled at a public or private school in Queens, Nassau or Suffolk Counties were eligible to participate. Since the contest was launched, the organization has provided about $40,000 in awards to sixteen students.

Over 70 essays were submitted for the topic “How Can I Lead My School and Community to Become A Bully-Free Place For Individuals With Autism and Developmental Disabilities.” Samantha Barbera, a 12th grade student from Brentwood High School, Brentwood, was the First-Place winner receiving $4,000. There was a tie for winning second place with Isabella Sicilian (a 10th grade student from Townsend Harris High School, Flushing) and Samantha Mack (an 11th grade student from Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Merrick.) The four Judges decided to combine the Second Place and Third Place prize money, to award each of the Second Place winners $2,500. Read the winning essays here.

Peter J. Klein, foundation President offers his good wishes and appreciation to the winners. “We would like to congratulate you for stepping up and speaking out on a crisis affecting a number of today’s students: Incidents of bullying and how this can be prevented. The thoughts you and your fellow students expressed through the written words you submitted have given our non-profit organization an abundance of new ideas and fresh perspectives on how to respond to the bullying issue, especially as it relates to people with autism and developmental disabilities,” said Klein.

Life’s WORC/The Family Center For Autism is a Garden City-based non-profit agency established fifty years ago by print media publisher Victoria Schneps with help from broadcast journalist icon Geraldo Rivera. It offers a variety of services and programs to some 2,000 people with developmental disabilities and autism. This includes a network of 43 group residences. Click here for more information.