April 16, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

West Coast American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro Honor Avi Lerner

Guest speaker, Michele Shapiro, OTR Ph.D., Director of Snoezelen and Environmental Design at Beit Issie Shapiro spoke about her lifelong interest in the impact of sensory processing on function and well-being and her experiences on pioneering the Snoezelen – Controlled Multi-Sensory Stimulation facility and method in Israel. Dr. Shlomo & Ilana Melmed and Dennis & Myra Monk were recognized for their support and partnership throughout the years. This year’s gala was co-chaired by Errol Fine and Marty Spiegel and the Gala Dinner was generously underwritten by Pat and Errol Fine. The emcee for the evening was Josh Rubenstein of CBS2/KCAL9 who took the helm of the live auction and brought in a $2,000 high bid for a tour of the television news studio, lunch and viewing of a live news broadcast.

Lerner, Co-chairman of Nu Image, Inc. and Millennium Films, Inc., is one of the most respected and prolific independent film producers in the international motion picture industry. He is a member of the Board of Directors of both the independent Producers Association and the American Film Marketing Association. Lerner is a native Israeli, studied economics at the University of Tel Aviv and served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Army. His philanthropic involvement includes children’s causes, cancer research and Israel.

Dr. Michele Shapiro is the Director of Snoezelen and Environmental Design at Beit Issie Shapiro. Following a lifelong interest in the impact of sensory processing on function and well-being, Dr. Shapiro pioneered the Snoezelen – Controlled Multi-Sensory Stimulation facility and method in Israel. As an occupational therapist and consultant for environmental planning and the design of accessible parks, she was awarded her Doctorate for a groundbreaking study on the sensory adaptation of a dental treatment clinic to reduce the anxiety of children.

The Controlled Multi-Sensory room, the Snoezelen, is a state-of-the-art, multi-sensory environment for people with developmental disabilities. This magical setting provides a blend of sights, sounds, textures, aromas and motion that, when mediated by a skilled therapist improves trust, confidence and communication. Treatment using this method dramatically improves the quality of life and sense of well-being for people with special needs.

“This celebration of Beit Issue Shapiro’s 30th anniversary is a celebration of Israel’s Best and excellence, not only in high tech and sciences, but also in matters of the heart and soul. Beit Issie Shapiro is a clear manifestation of our Prophets’ Vision and Jewish tradition of taking care of the weak and needy in our society, a worthy goal, as is the promotion of social justice in general… With Hanukkah in sight, I wish to express my hope tonight that Beit Issie Shapiro, Israel’s light unto the nations, shall continue to grow and strengthen, for all eternities. Amen†, sighted Shahar Azani, Consul for Culture, Media and Public Affairs for the Consulate General of Israel, who had welcomed the audience at the start of the gala program.

BIS is the cutting edge premier facility in Israel working in the field of disabilities. For 30 years, BIS has been changing the lives of children, adults, their families and community. Built on three pillars: Therapeutic and Educational Services; Social Change and Advocacy; Development, Research and Training, BIS’ impact is felt not only in Israel but throughout the world. Many of the treatments and services used at facilities globally have been researched and perfected at BIS. As well, many of those who provide services today have been trained by the professionals at BIS. Three outstanding examples of this are the hydrotherapy program (biggest in the world for Special Needs), Multi-Sensory room (Snoezelen) and Park “Chaverim†– where the King and Queen is in a wheelchair! Another unique aspect of BIS is that there is a lawyer on staff who works with 50 other non-profits on changing laws. Our belief is that everyone regardless of their ability or disability has equal opportunity and rights. BIS’s aim is simple, one of a just and accepting society.

Believing that the challenges of special needs is one to be built around a community that is supportive with family and friends, BIS is not a residential facility, rather provides support services not only to the child or adult with special needs but to their siblings and families. This helps to create not only a loving and nurturing environment at BIS, but more importantly, at home. Everyone involved at BIS from the staff to the leadership of the organization both in Israel and worldwide is involved out of purpose and love. Please visit www.afobis.org for more information.

Proceeds from the Gala Dinner go towards the continued support, research and development of Snoezelen at Beit Issie Shapiro (BIS).

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