Giving Back – Community Involvement and Volunteer Opportunities
Canoe Project for the Boy Scouts of America
Since Brian was so active in scouting, The Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation is taking on the project of collecting canoes that can be used at the Boy Scout Camps. New and gently used canoes are needed to replace the worn canoes at the camps. The community involvement ideas as such fall within our mission of disability awareness due to the fact that Boy Scouts support those with disabilities and even have a badge called “disability awareness”. Canoeing gives youths with disabilities the opportunity to focus on their abilities as well as give them a feeling of independence and freedom. Often scouts with disabilities attend camp to learn these new skills.
The skills they learn at camp are invaluable for the rest of their lives. To date we have collected 11 canoes and 5 kayaks that have been donated to Camp Keowa where Brian attended summer camp for many years. There are a total of four camps up at Ten Mile River Scout camps that could use new canoes and kayaks. In addition to Camp Keowa, there are Camp Aquehonga, Camp Ranachqua, and a Family Camp. The goal of our community involvement opportunities is to collect even more canoes and kayaks for the Boy Scouts of America, so this project is still ongoing. We are also hoping to start receiving donations of storage carports so that the scouts will have coverage at their camp sites on days of inclement weather.
Occasionally, the Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation will get a canoe that does not meet the specifications for the Boy Scouts of America, such as needing too much repair to be safe on the water. In this instance, the canoe was forwarded to the the North Brooklyn Boating Club for use with disabled veterans. Nothing donated ever goes to waste. Please see the letter and photos below.
Thank you again for your very generous donation of a canoe to the North Brooklyn Boat Club. I am writing to let you know we have successfully completed the needed repairs — rebuilding the gunwales, replacing the hardware, and mending the hull — and the boat is now a much-loved and much-used part of our canoe and kayak fleet.
Please know we are deeply grateful to the Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation for the contribution. We have already put your canoe to good use on several occasions, including member trips and environmental education paddles, and we look forward to incorporating it into other volunteer opportunities near Brooklyn, such as our trips with students, Scouts, and veterans.
Thank you again. NBBC appreciates the chance to honor the memory of Brian in this way, and we wish you the best with your efforts.
Canoe Crew North Brooklyn Boat Club
Sponsorship of Paintings by Jon Diehl
Jon Diehl is a young man who has had a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) since the age of four years old. Although he is a paraplegic and has use of only one arm, he has a gift of being an extremely talented artist. He generously donated two paintings to the Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation, which the foundation framed and sponsored as a donation to Mount Sinai Hospital’s TBI inpatient unit on Klingenstein Clinical Center 3rd floor. One painting “Breaking Water” was donated in loving memory of Brian and the other painting “Peaceful Thoughts” was donated in loving memory of his uncle Robert O. Jones, MD. His artwork is an inspiration to others with illnesses such as traumatic brain injury and shows how abled and talented a person with a “disability” can be.
Mr Diehl also generously donated another painting to James Madison High School where Brian attended. The painting was dedicated in the Fall of 2016 and is now hung prominently in the school’s new library for all to see.
Brian had many interests and was always eager to learn something new. He was just learning to play the piano at the time he gained his angel wings. In 2015, we asked the nonprofit group Sing For Hope if we may sponsor a piano in Brian’s name. As a part of our community involvement opportunities, we sent the piano to Molloy College and is proudly displayed in the reception area on the second floor of the Madison Theatre.
Sing for Hope also generously donated a piano to James Madison High School which we sponsored with a $500 grant for upkeep and repairs. The event was attended by Councilman Alan Maisel. The piano is proudly displayed in the school’s auditorium for all to enjoy.
On October 21, 2019, the foundation sponsored another Sing for Hope Piano at the Richmond Pre-K School In Staten Island New York. The $500 sponsorship will go towards the upkeep and any repairs to the piano for the next several years. The foundation also hopes to collaborate with school District 75 for future projects.
Purchase of Pianos for Heartsong, PS 277Q, Ramapo for Children and Bellevue Hospital
In keeping with the theme of pianos, the foundation purchased a piano for Heartsong.org in 2016 and for Ramapo for Children in 2017 for their music programs. Heartsong is a creative arts therapy program for individuals with special needs. Programs include Music Therapy, however, the program did not have a piano. The foundation fulfilled Heartsong’s wish and purchased a Story and Clark, piano from funds raised through the foundation’s 2016 fundraiser.
Ramapo for Children was also in need of a piano for Camp Ramapo, at their Rhineback , NY campus. The Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation purchased a Baldwin Acronsonic Queen Anne piano for them in July 2017.
The foundation also purchased a piano for PS 277Q The Riverview School. The dedication was made on June 8 2018 to a special school with special students to invite more community involvement ideas.
On December 12, 2018 the foundation donated and dedicated this beautiful piano to the pediatric unit at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. It is in the family room to allow parents and children some respite from debilitating medical conditions. The hospital and its directors Mr Williams Hicks CEO and Mr Michael Rawlings COO were very grateful for the donation since it will be used to benefit the children.
Making a Difference
My son received your award from PS 222 in 2016. I’ve struggled for what to say to convey how much it’s meant to us, with every version seeming long and drawn out, but you deserve to know how you affected my family for the better. I grew up with a brother with cerebral palsy. I felt that made me “smarter” than some, who judged a person with a disability, but when my own 2 children were struggling with their learning disabilities, I realized that people can be cruel and my children suffered for their ignorance. I knew my brother was exceptionally smart, and had the courage to go water rafting, drive a car and even got married and had children, his disability didn’t define him, it made him stronger, more determined to prove people wrong. When he passed away in 2012 it destroyed me. So when I saw you present an award, in your son’s name, I envied your strength. (The first award I saw you present was actually at Marine Park 278 during my daughter’s graduation).
Being from Marine Park, and watching the news during the time your son went missing, I knew some of your story, but not everything. I learned after my son received his award that your son seemed like an exceptional man. Trying his best to do the best he can, despite the fact that it was a little harder. The fact that he was in college is inspirational and that you eventually got to hang his diploma up is amazing. Today when my daughter came home from school crying, because school can be hard, and kids can be cruel, I reminded her of my brother, and your son, who didn’t let the world stop them. Thank you for having the courage and strength to get up at graduation and give out these awards. They do make a difference by providing volunteer opportunities for teens and adults. By giving the award to James Vera last year, you helped give confidence to both of my children, on multiple occasions. Your entire family is inspirational.
2019 Brian Gewirtz Inspirational Award at IS 278
Quincy Augustin was the recipient of the 2019 Brian Gewirtz Inspirational Award at IS 278
2019 Edward R Murrow HS Award and Scholarship
Grace Logan was the recipient of 2019 The Brian Gewirtz Memorial Award at Edward R Murrow HS along with a $500 scholarship.
Fourth Annual James Madison HS Award and Scholarship
Tyler Jean was this year’s recipient of the Brian Gewirtz Memorial Award along with a $500 scholarship. Tyler was all smiles at receiving this award.
Dedications and Donations
Bench Dedication at The Salt Marsh of Marine Park
Brian truly loved nature and loved taking walks to enjoy nature’s beauty daily. He especially loved the salt marsh for its serenity and beauty. The family dedicated a bench to Brian in the Salt Marsh area of Marine Park on October 9, 2015. The saying on the bench reflects Brian’s enjoyment of life. He himself had said, “What is life without sparkle?” In dedicating this bench at the fork of the two trails, others can come and rest and enjoy the area as he did. The bench also overlooks the water where people go paddle boating in the summer, reflecting Brian’s love of the water.
Donation of Wyland’s “Ocean Calling” to Jenkison’s Aquarium
The Wyland Foundation generously donated a signed and numbered lithograph of Wyland’s “Ocean Calling” to the Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation. The board of directors realizing the beauty of this piece thought it could bring more attention to disability awareness if it could be hung at wheelchair level in an appropriate public location. We asked the Wyland Foundation if we could sponsor the donation to Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant, New Jersey and they agreed. The piece has been professionally framed and hung at wheelchair level at the aquarium to bring attention to disability awareness.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
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Brian Gewirtz Memorial Foundation is a disability charity in Brooklyn, NY that appreciates all the support from our donors. Since 2016, numerous children, families and adults with disabilities have benefitted from our charity. Your generous contributions allow us to provide scholarship as well as other valuable opportunities to disabled people, so they can fulfill their dreams.