Louis Berman ’87
Alumni Achievement Award: Community Service
Louis “Lou” Berman ’87
Lou is president and founder of Louie’s Voice, a charitable organization that has been serving and speaking up for those with autism since 2011. Lou founded the organization in honor of his son, Louis Berman Jr., who is nonverbal and severely autistic. Since its founding, Louie’s Voice has donated more than $250,000 in goods and services to needy families in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey, and New York.
Lou’s son attends Bancroft School, a residential, special-needs school located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Today, 5,000 families with a special needs loved one at home are on a housing waiting list in New Jersey alone. And many families, like those served by Louie’s Voice, cannot afford the resources to care for their severely challenged, autistic young adults.
The neediest of the needy, these individuals inspired the organization’s annual Christmas toy drive, where Lou donned his Santa Claus costume to deliver gifts to about 100 students at Bancroft every year. Many of the children are custodians of the state and have little to no interaction with blood relatives and no personal support systems. Louie’s Voice seeks to make these children’s lives better by offering them the simplest and most loving of gestures during the holiday season.
Sadly, more than 70 percent of special needs families are single-parent households. Lou mentors these families and provides workshops, especially for men, who are most often suffering in silence as they struggle to understand and cope with their children who have special needs. Lou’s daughter, Bianca Berman, also assists with mentoring siblings of those with autism.
Lou’s long-term mission is to provide a loving home and resources for these children and young adults, a mission he describes as reflecting the vision of Milton and Catherine Hershey. Louie’s Voice is in discussions with the Philadelphia Eagles to partner with them on various fundraising, philanthropic, and goodwill projects in the Philadelphia community. In fact, Louie’s Voice will be participating in the now-famous Eagles Walk for Autism.