M.A.S.K. , Mothers and Fathers Aligned Saving Children, celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Feb 12, at the new Bison & Bourbon on 7th Street in Brooklyn, hosted by Jay Buchsbaum. N.Y.C.’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, was the guest speaker. Many community leaders and elected officials were in attendance, as well as many grateful parents.
In the 1990s, silence, denial and stigma enveloped the community when it came to issues of addiction and mental illness. In 1997, Ruchama Bistritzky-Clapman broke new ground, creating M.A.S.K. Mothers and Fathers Aligned Saving Kids, in her Brooklyn home for 27 families.
20 years and over 45,000 families later, M.A.S.K. is still leading the way with its confidential helpline, referrals, support groups, in-school programs and community awareness events. MASK offers staff training in school and camps, including distributing free Naloxone. MASK focus is on PREVENTION and AWARENESS of at risk behaviors. All ages, all stages.
A M.A.S.K. mother expressed HaKoras HaTov, describing her family’s ordeal and how M.A.S.K. supported and guided members of her family heal. Another couple shared openly the journey and support they received from MASK.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a pioneer in the at-risk landscape who collaborated with the Pataki administration to bring funding into Brooklyn’s critically under-served community, described his first experience with M.A.S.K. 17-18 years ago. “That night changed my life,” he said. “Ruchama was and continues to be a tireless and devoted heroine. She is someone I don’t hesitate to turn to for guidance with struggling families. MASK’s motto is, “If you change the music in your home your children’s dance steps can change. Many of these kids are so sensitive, and often times turn out to be SUPER STARS!”
Therapist appreciation awards were presented to Rabbi Benzion Twerski, Ph.D and Basie Rosenblatt, LCSW.
Shloimy Dachs sang a very moving song written by Heshiy Rubin for MASK.
Honoring the organization at their event was Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with Assemblyman Hikind who awarded them with a Citation. New York State Senator Martin J. Goldin recognized them with a Proclamation.