These past few weeks have been challenging for all of us, but for many Chai Lifeline families, the impact of COVID-19 has been particularly devastating. Navigating the complexities of childhood illness is difficult enough under the best of circumstances. Doing so during a pandemic can be extremely terrifying and lonely.
“We’ve been hearing from countless parents who are struggling to maintain, a semblance of normalcy in their homes as they confront job losses, their own illnesses, and increased anxiety—all while caring for a child with serious illness,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, CEO of Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health support network. “In recent weeks, we’ve seen a surge in demand for our services and we are committed to helping everyone in need.”
Those critical services include meals delivered to hospitals and homes, emergency financial assistance, transportation to medical appointments, personal protective equipment for immunocompromised families, insurance advocacy, care packages for quarantined children, counseling, support groups, and personalized case management. And while families may be socially isolated, Chai Lifeline’s dedicated volunteers are still active, connecting with children virtually over the phone or Zoom, and helping families with shopping for essential items like groceries or pharmacy items.
To keep kids at home occupied and entertained, Chai Lifeline has launched an online entertainment channel, www.chailifeline.org/channels, featuring stories, music videos, exclusive concerts, magic shows and other exciting content.
Rachel, a mother of a child with Stage 4 cancer, recently lost her job as her employer was forced to close its doors. Her husband is hospitalized with the coronavirus and she is struggling to make ends meet as she cares for her family. But Rachel is not alone.
Her case manager maintains daily contact to offer counseling and see how Chai Lifeline can help. Chai Lifeline sent a check to help cover the family’s medical and food bills. Arts and crafts projects and games were sent to keep Rachel’s children busy and give her a much-needed break. Chai Lifeline volunteers help Rachel’s kids with tutoring and homework over the phone, deliver nourishing meals, and assisted Rachel with all her Pesach preparations.
“Given the circumstances, I should feel all alone,” said Rachel. “But not when you’re part of Klal Yisroel, not when you’re part of Chai Lifeline. They have been there for me and my family every step of the way.”
Sadly, Rachel’s story is not unique. Her family is one of the thousands of Chai Lifeline families receiving support during this global health crisis.
That support has extended to the greater Jewish community. Project Chai, the crisis intervention department of Chai Lifeline, has been working around the clock to help schools, shuls and families around the world cope with the traumatic impacts of COVID-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Project Chai team has presented virtual mental health workshops, lectures and conference calls to thousands of people and dozens of Jewish organizations across the globe.
“We want to remind the community that although you may be isolated right now, you are not alone,” said Rabbi Scholar. “Chai Lifeline is there for families in need. Our mission has never been more critical.”
To learn more about Chai Lifeline, visit www.chailifeline.org or call 877-CHAI-LIFE. To donate to Chai Lifeline’s emergency response fund, visit www.isolatedtogether.org. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, contact Project Chai’s 24-hour helpline 855-3-CRISIS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.