Pictured are: Longtime former Eastchester resident Paula Berkowitz (second from left), winner of the Community Hero Award for service to Friends of Karen (presented by Bunge); Alisa H. Kesten (left) of New Rochelle, Volunteer New York! executive director; Susan Kushner (second from right) of Armonk, Volunteer New York! vice chair and benefit chair; and Jonathan Hotz OF Ossining, VNY! board member and manager of internal communications at Bunge, at Volunteer New York!'s 34th annual Volunteer Spirit Awards at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Tarrytown, NY, on April 24.
“When the unimaginable happened in my life and there was nowhere to turn, Friends of Karen came through for my family’s everyday needs, in every respect,” says Berkowitz. She has since become a passionate ambassador and advocate for Friends of Karen with the establishment of Adina’s Angels Fund, to help distraught families whose children suffer from life-threatening illness, as well as their siblings.
Berkowitz has the passion and commitment to serve the needs of these families. This comes directly from her own personal tragedies in 2010, when her husband Steve succumbed to cancer, her 20-year-old son Justin died unexpectedly, and two weeks later her daughter Adina lost her four-year battle with leukemia at age 17. The Adina’s Angels Fund was named in honor of Berkowitz's daughter to provide emotional, financial and advocacy for families caring for their seriously ill children. Berkowitz explains, “During the worst time of my life, they made sure I didn’t have to go through any of it alone.”
Since founding Adina’s Angels Fund three years ago, Berkowitz has been an unstoppable force of energy, inspiring high schools, community groups, religious organizations, corporations and others to embrace its spirit. To date, over $170,000 has been raised to provide vital, practical, and comprehensive services that relieve the everyday issues and concerns of families caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. Berkowitz has turned her own loss into positive action to support Friends of Karen and their families in need.