A Community of Support: Families Living with Disabilities Connect at Chai Lifeline Retreat

It may not be summer yet, but the Camp Simcha campus was alive with laughter and smiles for Chai Lifeline’s LH Financial Retreat on March 25-27. More than two hundred children and families living with disabilities, as well as Chai Lifeline volunteers and staff, convened for an exciting and inspiring weekend getaway at the Stella K. Abraham Family Center in Glen Spey, New York.

“When a family faces illness or crisis, it is vital they have a community of support and understanding. These retreats provide an opportunity for children and families to connect with people navigating similar challenges in a warm, welcoming, and accepting environment,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline CEO.

From the moment they arrived, participants enjoyed a packed schedule of activities and entertainment. While their children attended day camp programming and thrilling game shows and magic performances, parents were able to bond with one another on a meaningful level through various peer support group sessions.

“We quickly learned how much we had in common with these other families,” said Yitzchak, a Chai Lifeline father from West Palm Beach, Florida. “We shared the same joy, pain, relief, fear, and love. All at once, our differences disappeared, and we were all there together as one family.”

From heartfelt davening and delicious meals to a soulful Oneg and powerful talks, Shabbos provided a spiritually and emotionally uplifting experience for all. Following Shabbos, families took part in an energetic Melava Malka.

Leah, a Chai Lifeline mother from Oak Park, Michigan, said she “had never participated in a support group before and the power of healing is indescribable. This retreat gave us the space to be vulnerable and to hear others’ vulnerabilities took our breath away.”

She added, “The greatest gift we received this weekend was the validation. To have our own feelings verbalized again and again was calming on a very deep level.”

“These retreats allow every member of the family to relax and recharge and to leave with the comfort of knowing they are not alone in their battle against illness,” said Rabbi Mordechai Gobioff, Chai Lifeline National Director of Client Services.

Chai Lifeline is an international children’s health support network providing social, emotional, and financial assistance to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and their families. To learn more, visit www.chailifeline.org.

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