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Friendship Circle Luncheon Turns 10

Kroplick and Kammerer honored

On May 8, more than 500 fashionably dressed women converged on the Garden City Hotel for the Sid Jacobson JCC’s tenth annual Friendship Circle Luncheon. Notable celebrities on hand were Good Day New York co-host Rosanna Scotto, who was also the event’s MC, and singer/actress Megan Hilty from the Broadway play Wicked and NBC’s hit drama Smash, who entertained the ladies with her favorite songs from both shows.

The Friendship Circle Luncheon was started 10 years ago by Denise Silverberg, as a way to raise money for programs providing support for adults in their 30s,  40 s and  50s that are afflicted by Alzheimer’s. Silverberg’s mother has the disease, so she understands firsthand the role of a caregiver and the stresses involved in taking care of someone who has it.

Honorees of the luncheon included Howard Kroplick, board member of the Sid Jacobson JCC who was instrumental in providing seed money to help fund the Let’s Do Lunch Program. A resident of East Hills, he retired in 2008 as president and founder of The Impact Group, a leading medical communications company, and is the town historian of North Hempstead.

Kathleen Kammerer was the recipient of the Caregiver Award. Kammerer’s husband Brian was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 42 in 2001. A SUNY Albany graduate, her spouse has an MBA from St. John’s University and he worked as a chief financial officer on Wall Street. When the Massapequa Park resident spoke at the luncheon, she recalled a phone call she received from her husband one morning.

“He said, ‘I’m holding a skinny metal object, I don’t know what it is. I don’t remember what to do with it.’ It was a stapler. My heart sank,” she said. Kathleen knew her husband could no longer work and she became the sole support for her husband and three children—10-year-old Patrick, 9-year-old Colleen and 8-year-old Kate at that time.

Brian is now 55, lives at home and has no idea who his wife and children are. Given the trials and tribulations she faces in this extremely difficult situation, Kathleen Kammerer has high praise for the JCC. “They have meant the world to me, they take care of him during the day and give me piece of mind. He is at the center all week long, going to day care,” she explained. “The JCC has programs for me providing spousal support and the children also have a program where they meet up with other [kids] who are experiencing the same situation, so it’s a tremendous help. This has been his home for 10 years.”

Kammerer regrets that her children never got to know their father and have missed out on so many events but lauds praise on the JCC and its wonderful and caring staff that have made such a difference in their lives.

Most people assume that Alzheimer’s disease affects only the elderly, which is not true. More young adults are being diagnosed with the disease and the JCC is one of the few programs in the country that offers support for those family members going through this process.

Symbolic of The Friendship Circle Luncheon is the yellow rose, which signifies, joy, happiness, and is used to embrace new beginnings. Each table had centerpieces of yellow roses. Funds were raised not only through the luncheon but also through a silent auction and raffle with products donated from the business community.

To learn more about the programs at the Sid Jacobson’s JCC on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other related disease, as well as programs for family and caregivers please visit www.sjjcc.org or call 516-484-1585.