Chaverim Queens dedicated to helping the community
by Jacob Henry
Feb 10, 2021 | 1442 views | 0 0 comments | 138 138 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Chaverim Queens member helps to dig a car out of the snow.
A Chaverim Queens member helps to dig a car out of the snow.
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Agota, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, receives her COVID vaccination after being driven to the site by Chaverim Queens.
Agota, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, receives her COVID vaccination after being driven to the site by Chaverim Queens.
slideshow
For the last 13 years, volunteer organization Chaverim Queens has been serving the Forest Hills community.

The group was founded by Avi Cyperstein, who said the goal is to inspire people to help out more within the community.

“When called upon for something, if we're able to do it, we do it,” Cyperstein said. “That's our motto.”

In the middle of a snowstorm last week, Chaverim Queens stepped into action, not only shoveling snow, but also helping voters get to the polls for last week’s special election.

“Some people told us that if we did not put out this public statement that we were going to be offering rides, many of the people that we drove were not planning to go to the polls because of inclement weather,” Cypterstein said.

Eli Love, a volunteer with the organization who also works as a dispatcher, described the relentless day of keeping people safe during the storm.

“We had people out out all day, pulling people out of the snow and shoveling people out,” Love said. “We had guys out until three o'clock in the morning.”

Cyperstein said that the group started small with 10 active volunteers, but has now grown to around 100 people who are dedicated to helping others in need.

"The personality that most of our members have is that we know this is going to be a day that we're going to be needed,” Cyperstein said.

Chaverim also has a working relationship with the NYPD, and has been called upon to assist officers multiple times over the years.

“They respect the work that we do,” Cyperstein said. “When we're on the scene together, there's a mutual relationship.”

On Friday, Cypersten assisted in driving an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor to receive her COVID vaccination in coordination with another group called Fountain Of Kindness. Cypterstein said he was grateful to help.

“She’s a very special woman,” Cypterstein said. “She made calls on the way home saying ‘I lived through the Holocaust, and now I lived through COVID and got a vaccine.’”

On the same day, Love described a food pantry losing power, prompting Chaverim members to move food into the snow to serve as a makeshift freezer.

“The pantry had food for hundreds of people in fridges that was just going to spoil,” Eli said. “In about a half-hour, we had seven people there, unloading everything out the door.”

Cyperstein said the group is a 24/6 operation, taking the day off for the Sabbath, but made sure to point out that the group serves everyone in the community, regardless of religion or background.

“Our services are not limited to the Jewish community,” Cyperstein said. “Anyone that calls us, we are happy to help.”

He added that Chaverim is constantly seeking new volunteers, and described a rush that comes with helping people in times of crisis.

“You don't realize that the small thing that you can do for someone else could be a big thing for them,” Cyperstein said. “What we stand for is not just to help when we're called upon, but to inspire people to help when they are called upon.”
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