There's not a single person who has met Reb Okunov that hasn't said that Mendel made an imprint on their life. Here's my story.. might not be too accurate, will have to ask my father for more details.
My parents moved to the US from Belarus in 1989. Neither of my parents were keeping shabbos and kosher. They only knew about Jewish traditions that they heard from their grandparents. Somehow ending up in Crown Heights out of all places in NY.
On a Shabbos morning, my father was on his way to work. As he got into his car he realized that something is wrong with his car and he could not get to work. He was very anxious.
He asked around for help, and one person said that he has a neighbor in this building who has ALL THE TOOLS he needs.
When my father knocked on the door, Reb Mendel Okunov greeted him with his signature smile, a smile that left a mark on you. You were able to feel his love for every person based off the smile he would give to people. Anyways back to the story.
My father asked Reb Mendel for tools, and Reb Mendel said of course, but first come inside, sit down for kiddush etc.
After a few hours of sitting with Reb Mendel and his incredible family, my father was inspired. My father decided he wanted to get a Bris Milah Reb Mendel and his wife, Zahava, invited the rest of my family over next week
Some time later, my parents had a chupa, and then they had a son...me.
All thanks to Reb Mendel, I am here today, a frum Jew. Had my parents never met Reb Mendel, I don't know where or who I would be today.
Fast forward to my teenage years. It was the summer of 2007, and his son Dovid approached me to work in Camp Free and not just do nothing with my summer. Not only was it one of the best summers of my life. It also changed my life as I made a decision to join Reb Mendel's school, Ohel Dovid. The Russian Division of ULY. I did not go to a Chabad school my whole life, but those two years in Reb Mendel's school reconnected me with Chabad. I am forever grateful, thankful, and proud that my connection to Judaism and Chabad stems from Reb Mendel.