2017 Essay Contest – Winners Announced!

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Life’s WORC and The Family Center for Autism essay contest, sponsored by Life’s WORCThe Claire Friedlander Family Foundation and Schneps Communications.

All ninth through twelfth grade students currently enrolled at a public or private school in Queens, Nassau or Suffolk Counties were eligible to participate. More than 90 essays were submitted.

This year’s essay question was: Why do autistic and developmentally disabled people become the targets of bullies, and how can my school and community prevent it?

All of the entries were fantastic, but the three winners stood out from the rest. Please click on their names below to read their essays.


First Place and winner of $3,000: Gilda DelBianco, 9th Grade, Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, Riverhead

Second Place and winner of $2,000: Bridget Murphy
, 12th Grade, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale

Third Place and winner of $1,000: Alexandra Hildreth
, 11th Grade, Garden City High School, Garden City


Judges for the 2017 essay contest:

  • Peter J. Klein, President, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation
  • Gene Bernstein, CEO, Northville Industries Corp.
  • Kelly McMasters, Asst. Professor of English/Publishing Studies Director, Hofstra University
  • Janet Koch, Executive Director, Life’s WORC


The winners were celebrated at a reception, held at The Family Center for Autism, on May 31.

Peter Klein, President The Claire Friedlander Foundation, Gild DelBianco 1st Place winner,
Life’s WORC Exec. Director Janet Koch, Dr. Gene Bernstein (judge)

Peter Klein, Alexandra Hildreth 3rd Place Winner, Janet Koch, Gene Bernstein

Kelly McMasters (judge), Gilda DelBianco 1st Place winner

Peter Klein, Lisa Murphy (parent of 2nd place winner, Bridget Murphy), Gene Bernstein, Janet Koch

Janet Koch, Peter Klein, Gilda DelBianco, Lisa Murphy, Alexandra Hildreth, Gene Bernstein

Thank you to our sponsors and everyone who participated, and congratulations to our winners!