Aleta Thomas was the second place winner of an essay competition sponsored by, Life’s WORC ( and The Family Center For Autism ( in Garden City, New York together with The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation (Huntington, New York).  There were 148 high school students from public and private schools in Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk who addressed:  WHY AUTISTIC AND DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED PEOPLE BECOME TARGETS OF BULLIES, AND HOW CAN MY SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY PREVENT IT?

Thomas, a tenth grade student at Herrick’s High School, submitted the following winning essay which highlights the importance of volunteering as a way to foster a sense of empathy and community in our youth.

Aleta Thomas, Herricks High School

Why Autistic and Developmentally Disabled Individuals Become Targets of Bullies, and How Can My School and Community Prevent It?

I lean over the table, explaining to Julia the basics of chess, emphasizing that she cannot just knock all my pieces down even when she is losing. Volunteering at the after-school recreation program in my local elementary school, which about fifty students are part of, I am usually not surprised when the supervising adults in the room have to raise their voices to discipline the tired, distracted children.

However it was a very quiet Thursday evening in the large cafeteria when Mrs. C barked from across the room, “Boys, stop that right now! Not appropriate! Not appropriate at all!” By the time I turned around, two fifth-graders were slinking away from Josh, an enthusiastic fifth grader who had some form of autism. Eyewitness accounts from the third-graders nearby confirmed that the boys were mocking Josh by imitating him. It all seemed wrong to me. I worked with those boys every day; they were not bullies. When I pried them for the reasons for their actions, one boy innocently asked me, “What is wrong with Josh?” Nothing is wrong with Josh. He has a disorder called autism. “What is autism?” It shocked me that two well-educated fifth-graders had no clue of the developmental disorder which affects 1 in 68 children throughout the world. Autistic and developmentally disabled individuals become targets as a result of the ignorance of people who attack others, knowingly or not, based on their differences.

The flower of knowledge can be the root of peace in situations where ignorance can destroy the livelihood of a group of people. The school community should better educate younger kids on developmental disorders like autism, because exposure to knowledge destroys the film of ignorance. School assemblies, class discussions, and visits by public officials can all grab the attention of kids to this situation.

Also, encouraging teenagers and tweens to volunteer and help out at community events and programs will foster a sense of empathy in the community. The impenetrable glue that binds a community together can be found at the heart of every children’s program. Over the course of my high school career, I’ve completed over 180 community service hours by helping out at local public institutions.

For example, I volunteer at a Special Needs Catechism program at my local church, and this opportunity has taught me that every child is special and has the right to learn and grow. Over the summer, young adults should be pushed to volunteer and provide services at summer camps intended for autistic and developmentally disabled children. This summer, I have been accepted by the Hofstra REACH program to be a volunteer and aide. These kinds of actions taken by young adults can help prevent bullying and out casting of autistic individuals.







Peter J. Klein to be honored by Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation

The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) is pleased to honor Peter J. Klein, President, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, with the “Outstanding Philanthropic Achievement” Award at their annual awards event Making Memories: Cocktails & Casino Night on Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 6:30pm at Carlyle on the Green, Bethpage, NY.   The evening’s festivities will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, buffet dinner, casino and prizes.  Funds raised will support LIAF’s mission to help improve the quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and related memory disorders, and their caregivers. For more than 25 years, LIAF has been providing supportive community-based services to Alzheimer’s families on Long Island. LIAF takes considerable pride in its pioneering role in the development of cutting edge services that foster the independence, dignity, well-being and safety of individuals with Alzheimer’s, thus aiding in the prevention of premature nursing home placement. LIAF’s programs offer help and hope for families grappling with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am pleased and very honored to represent the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation and be recognized by LIAF. We are proud to support their numerous programs for patients and caregivers on Long Island and in Queens,” said Klein.  “LIAF has a deep impact on families struggling with Alzheimer’s and I look forward to a successful and fun Making Memories event.”

For information on tickets and sponsorships and to learn more about LIAF visit or contact



Essay Contest Winner Announced!

Congratulations go to Ryan Harvey as the first place winner of an essay competition sponsored by, Life’s WORC ( and The Family Center For Autism ( in Garden City, New York together with The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation (Huntington, New York).  148 high school students from public and private schools in Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk submitted essays that addressed:  WHY AUTISTIC AND DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED PEOPLE BECOME TARGETS OF BULLIES, AND HOW CAN MY SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY PREVENT IT?

Harvey, a ninth grade student at The Village School of Great Neck, is a 14-year-old with high-functioning Autism who was targeted by his peers for being different from them, causing him to eventually transfer to the Village School in Great Neck as an escape. In his essay, Ryan explained how communities can prevent autistic and developmentally disabled people from being bullied.

Ryan Harvey, The Village School of Great Neck

My name is Ryan Harvey and I am 14 years old. I have a diagnosis of high- functioning Autism. I also have a brother with severe autism. I have spent most of my life trying to fit in. I have always felt different and left out. When people made fun of me, I pretended to be with okay with it, but it killed me inside, slowly but surely chipping away at my self-esteem. My appearance  (an arachnoid cyst and hydrocephaly making my head appear larger), my lack of athletic ability (low muscle tone), my sensitivity( a side effect of my autism where I take things very literally), and lack of social awareness, made me a prime target for many years. I have always been a protector and supporter of my brother Luke who does not speak and needs help in all aspect of his life. My heart hurts when I think of the suffering that he may be enduring, but is unable to report because he is non-verbal.

In 9th grade. I hit an all-time low. High school was a nightmare. People laughed at me, and mocked my physical appearance, and diagnosis of autism. They called me a loser and told me I was weird because of my difference in interests. This made me feel hopeless and helpless. When my mom tried to help and report these incidents to the school, we were told that maybe I was being “too sensitive”. Their advice was to skip lunch period and go to study hall instead to avoid the bullies. I was also told to avoid certain hallways so I would not come in contact with the bullies, making my life harder and I would sometimes be late to class because of this. The victim was punished instead of the perpetrator.

Finally, when I was targeted on social media, I knew I could never go back. I became so desperate that I came up with a plan to end my pain. I was going to jump off the roof of the high school. Luckily, I shared this feeling with my family and private counselor. I was hospitalized for two weeks and ultimately transferred to an alternative school. I started feeling healthy again and finally like I mattered. The Village School changed my life.

My advice to my high school is to look at us as contributing members of the school system. We have so much to offer, but we need your help. When bullying is reported, it should be taken seriously and not disregarded. It is important that you let students know that you care about their well-being. Please let the bullies know that is not okay to prey on those who are different. In words of Temple Grandin- an adult autistic individual who is an advocate for the autism community- “we are different, not less”.

I believe that some type of social-emotional learning should be incorporated into the curriculum at schools. Empathy can be taught the “second step” program. Activities such as Challenge Day (a one day workshop to promote acceptance and unite students) should be mandatory and assemblies like “Ryan’s Story” (chillingly about a boy with the same name as me who committed due to the bullying he endured in his school) should be shown. Students need to see what the effects of bullying looks like. Social skills groups facilitated by the school social worker may be effective as well. All school staff should be well-versed in and in compliance with the Dignity Act, as it is now a law that states that all students are entitled to a school environment that is free of harassment and bullying.

I know this will be an uphill battle, as there are many bullies out there, but if given the chance, we just may change the world. I feel very fortunate to have gotten out of the path of my bullies, but so many off us do not. People like my brother, and maybe even people like you. We look for adults to look out for us. If they don’t, who will? Take the leap, make the change. I promise you won’t regret it.


Ryan Harvey: a voice for those who cannot speak.







The Bronx High School of Science

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation proudly supports the Bronx High School of Science. Often cited as the most renowned high school in America, The Bronx High School of Science educates an academically gifted community of learners through a rigorous Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. All academic disciplines are taught through the lens of inquiry to emphasize critical thinking and problem solving. Bronx Science creates a diverse community of lifelong learners who discover their passions through a collaborative and supportive network of students, educators and alumni.

Students explore complex problems and have access to a rich offering of resources to develop solutions. Drawing upon a long tradition of academic success, The Bronx High School of Science prepares students to flourish in the best colleges and universities. They create the leaders and visionaries of the future. The Bronx Science Endowment Fund, Inc., exists as the development arm of the school and strives to provide the resources for the school to enhance its curriculum, facilities and experiential education programs.


The Italian Language Foundation

The Italian Language Foundation (ILF) is dedicated to promoting and sustaining Italian language education in the United States and supporting the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) program in Italian Language and Culture. The Foundation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation qualified by the Internal Revenue Service to receive tax deductible contributions.

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation supports the Italian Language Foundation as it’s efforts have resulted in the addition of AP Italian to the College Board AP Language Program in 2005. Thanks to the dedication and intervention of Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo and Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D.,  Italian was the first new AP Language Program to be offered in 50 years, thus allowing  committed young men and women to earn college credit or advanced standing for their high school work that can help students graduate early from some colleges and universities. Early graduation saves them or their families thousands of dollars in tuition fees. AP courses are offered in cities and towns across the country, providing students who may never travel overseas exposure to Italy’s great language and culture. To learn more about the Italian Language Foundation visit




The Barton Center for Diabetes Education

The Barton Center for Diabetes Education, Inc. is one of the largest, independent camping and educational programs in the country dedicated to children who live with diabetes and the people who care for them. More than 2,000 children and their families participate in their programs each year. The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is pleased to support the Barton Center’s mission which is to improve the lives of children with insulin-dependent diabetes through education, recreation, and support programs which inspire and empower.

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation presented a grant to The Barton Center that will provide financial assistance for children, ages 3-18 with type 1 diabetes, from low-income families to participate in our resident and day camps as well as funding to offset the cost of medical supplies that are no longer being donated.  Additionally, funding from this grant has helped them to establish a scholarship in honor of Claire Friedlander to be awarded to qualified summer staff members who work extremely long hours throughout the summer providing “good deeds” as symbolized by the pomegranate logo of The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation.




The Fly A Kite Foundation


The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation supports the good work of The Fly A Kite Foundation Inc.,  which was founded in August 2014 as an IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit charity by David and Deena Bernstein after the loss of their son Zachary. Zachary was an 11-year-old boy who was diagnosed with, and suffered from DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma). DIPG is a type of brain tumor found in the Pons, the part of the brainstem near the lower back of the head near the top of the spinal cord. The Fly A Kite Foundation is dedicated to three main objectives:

Partners In Art – The Fly A Kite Foundation provides custom art packages for children with pediatric brain cancers. These packages are intended to provide a creative and therapeutic outlet for children suffering from diminished motor function. They have partnered with Patricia Kearney, a Neuro-Occupational Therapist (Therapy Partner) who works for Transitions of Long Island (part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System), an outpatient rehabilitation center specializing in helping people recover from neurological injury or illness. Patricia designs these art packages based on the therapeutic needs of each child.

Partners In Advocacy – The Fly A Kite Foundation seeks to provide parents of newly diagnosed patients with support and guidance as they try to define and navigate treatment plans. The members of The Fly A Kite Foundation are passionate third parties available to guide, organize, support, listen, identify treatment options, and help bridge communications between family and medical provider.

To date, they have helped many families who are recently informed about the devastating disease. The Fly A Kite Foundation support services range from weekly phone calls to families to one-on-one personal discussions helping families work through the emotional and financial roller coaster that will immediately affect their lives. They are here to help – whether it’s to be a shoulder to cry on or working with their team to build out a cancer plan of attack that will help organize the family’s lives for what lies ahead. For more information, visit


Sunrise Day Camp-Long Island

Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island is the world’s first full-summer day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, provided completely free of charge. The fun, friendship and smiles continue year round through various camp-like programs and in-hospital services.

The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation grant will help ensure that Sunrise will be able to continue providing these programs to every child who needs them, changing months of loneliness and isolation into summers filled with sunshine, laughter and happiness.

Sunrise Day Camp-Long Island is a proud member of the Sunrise Association, whose mission is to bring back the joys of childhood to children with cancer and their siblings world-wide, through the creation of Sunrise Day Camps, Year-Round Programs and In-Hospital Recreational Activities, all offered free of charge. Sunrise Day Camp-Long Island is a program of the Friedberg JCC, a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation of New York.




Pink Aid

Pink Aid’s mission is to help under served local women survive breast cancer treatment with support and dignity, to provide screening to women in financial need, and to empower breast cancer survivors to heal by helping and inspiring others. Pink Aid provides grants to support programs that provide services including free breast cancer screening and help covering non-medical expenses such as food cards, household bills, wigs, recovery garments and transportation for patients undergoing treatment. The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation is proud to contribute to Pink Aid so they, in turn, can continue to assist local agencies with their missions – to help Long Island women survive breast cancer with compassionate care.

Photo from Pink Aid’s recent “Evening of Gratitude” event… Shown L to R:  Irene Klein, Vice President, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, Peter Klein, President, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, Kerry Striano (Pink Aid Grant Committee), Ali Mitchell (Pink Aid Long Island President)

To learn more about Pink Aid and the organizations they support, visit