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A Volunteer Project Gone Familial

December 11, 2012 By:
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We are family: Miriam and Harold Lefkowitz are proud of how their children, Sarah (left) and Rachel, have given of themselves to help others.

Kids, who can tell what’s wrong with these kids today?

That old lament from "Bye Bye Birdie" can be sent packing when one visits the Miriam and Harold Lefkowitz household in Huntingdon Valley. The whole family is "Into the Woods" — Wood Services, that is, a company that runs group homes for mentally challenged residents.

It all started three years ago as a project for Rachel Lefkowitz’s Bat Mitzvah at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park. Rachel, now 15, had heard about the Langhorne facility, serving 700 residents, through a Disney-sponsored volunteer project.

Initially, Rachel became involved on her own. Then her older sister — and mom and dad — were drawn in as well.

“It’s made me a better person,” reveals Rachel. “I see different kinds of people and I appreciate life even more.”

“There is one girl that I especially feel very close to," Rachel continues. She’s probably in her mid-20s and rarely speaks. When she does, “it’s in one-syllable words.” But when she sees her Lefkowitz visitors, she opens up.

The experience has opened up an emotional dictionary for 17-year-old Sarah. When she first started teaching residents how to do certain chores during her freshman year at Lower Moreland High School, “I found the meaning of what a friend is."

Recently, the Lefkowitz family received the "President Award" from Wood Services.

Hail to the Lefkowitzes — or is it hail to the Wood residents?

Helping others, Rachel says, “has brought us closer together."

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