hometown heros

Ben Gorsky and Audrey Gillies:
Student Hometown Heroes for Jawonio

Ben Gorsky and Audrey Gillies are juniors at Clarkstown South High School. They developed the concept, design and sales of Crewneck Sweaters and tagline “Stronger Together” to fundraise for the Jawonio Foundation Hometown Heroes event that took place in April 2022 during Autism Awareness Month. Ben and Audrey raised close to $2000 that will be earmarked for our Early Intervention program serving infants and toddlers with special needs. Here are Ben and Audrey:

Ben: We first met Diana Hess when we ran a program called Teen Leadership. Rockland and Jawonio had come as part of a nonprofit night, and we instantly fell in love with the concept of hometown heroes and the fundraiser.

We wanted nothing but to help, and the rest is history. We thought it would be so cool to develop our own fundraiser as part of hometown heroes because it’s a way to connect with something unique, and something everyone would be happy to wear, and look forward to receiving as a thank you for your donation to Jawonio.  We wanted to show the Jawonio spirit instead of the act of making a donation and then it sort of just goes away and you forget about it.

Audrey: We really liked the saying that Jawonio developed during Covid which was #JawonioStrong. We decided to build off of that concept. After meeting and brainstorming Ben and I came up with the tagline “Stronger Together”. We felt it would be a way to share the message that as a society, we are all stronger together by connecting to family, friends and the larger community.

We participated in community events such as setting up a table for the crewneck sweatshirt sale which allowed us to share the Jawonio mission and message. There were so many people who stopped by our table who showed a ton of interest and made donations through buying the crewnecks.  Ben also went to the Farmers Market at Cropsey Farm with Jawonio Foundation Director, Molly Gibeau-Griffin to create awareness for the project on a weekend as well.

Ben: When my friends see that we have established this project and say they are jealous because of the volunteer fundraising and community service, I share that there’s always room for more– By raising these funds, we’re helping to ensure that our next generation gets to be better off than we were. Since involving myself with Jawonio. I feel like Audrey and I have learned so much about ourselves, developed a confidence through our efforts, and truly, we believe have been able to make the community a better place. I’ve learned so much about Jawonio, who they are, who they help, who’s and they impact they have had for the past 75 years, I believe as a whole too, I have become a better person thanks to becoming part of the Jawonio future.

Audrey: We never knew how this was going to develop into such an incredible experience for us but we would like to thank Jawonio for giving us such a great opportunity to be able to give back to our community.

For more information on becoming a student Hometown Hero contact:

Diana Hess

Chief Development and Communications Officer