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Jewish Journal

A Friend Indeed

by Michelle K. Wolf

June 23, 2011 | 11:39 pm

Support for families raising a child with special needs can take many forms.

When Danny was around 3 years old and we realized that his “developmental delays” weren’t temporary, we began to more actively seek out help and advice. A family we had known for years with a teenager who had intellectual disabilities took us out to dinner and shared the twists and turns of their own challenging journey. Family members offered to help pay for expensive therapies. And a total stranger volunteered to come to over to our home once a week as part of the then “Family Friends” program at Jewish Family Service.

Herb Ehrmann, a successful retired attorney who had been personally touched with his own children with special needs first entered our lives 13 years ago, and still comes over once a week in the evening to provide us with some “time off” or respite from parenting a child with significant disabilities.  He is always exactly on time, and invariably in a good mood.

Over the years, Danny and he have developed their own little rituals, such as eating certain food, (for many years Danny called him “Herb Toast”), and watching baseball or basketball on TV, something Danny never does with anyone else.

We usually use those precious free hours to go to the gym and have a good workout, often followed by frozen yogurt (if we are feeling virtuous) or ice cream (when we are not). Other times, we use the time to hear a lecture or see a movie, re-entering the world of ideas and culture outside of our respective work areas.

As with any close friend, we experienced good times together, such as Herb’s marriage to his lovely wife, Connie, and summer evenings in their Jacuzzi, as well as the darker, sadder parts of life.

In addition to coming over to our house once a week, Herb also volunteers for Chaverim, the social/recreational program also provided by JFS (with partial Federation funding). He takes the adults bowling, and goes away overnight with them on Shabbatons and other special events.
This Sunday, Herb is being honored at the10th Annual Shining Star Fundraiser for his 20 years of “generous and dedicated service” to Chaverim at 2 pm at the Milken Community Campus, 22622 Vanowen Street in West Hills.The program will feature a special performance by the Chaverim Singers, silent and live auctions and appetizers & desserts.

For us, Herb has become a very close family friend indeed and we wish him Mazel Tov on this well-deserved honor.

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