Out of the Shadows: i-Shine Provides Afterschool Support to Overlooked Children

As the school year winds down, one particular group of students is looking back with a distinct sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing they have made a real difference in the lives of others. Through Chai Lifeline’s Goodman Family i-Shine afterschool program, more than 800 teen volunteers have served as mentors to children affected by serious illness or loss. The program takes place in communities across the country for weekly sessions that include dinner, homework help, and various recreational activities, providing essential support to these often-overlooked ‘shadow children.’

Rabbi Simcha Scholar, CEO of Chai Lifeline, highlighted the importance of i-Shine: “Children with sick parents or siblings or those who have lost a family member face unnoticed challenges and require dedicated support to help them navigate their unique circumstances.”

Beyond the one-on-one interactions, i-Shine volunteers also organize special events such as carnivals, drum circles, petting zoos, and movie nights, enriching the lives of these children with memorable experiences and new friendships.

Parents like Sarah Dukes in Cedarhurst, NY, appreciate the stability the program brings. “The consistency of the volunteers provides a safe, trusting environment for the kids, which is crucial given the instability they face at home,” she explains.

Lizzy Zupnik, who helps coordinate the i-Shine program in Chicago, adds, “For the children, it’s a chance to receive undivided attention and for the teen volunteers, it’s a rewarding chesed opportunity to make a real difference.”

“My children look forward to i-Shine every week,” said Sarah Richards of Los Angeles. “They love the extra attention they get from their counselors, and it gives me a chance to relax a little, knowing that they are in caring hands.”

i-Shine programs are active on Long Island, NY; Teaneck, NJ in memory of Ilana Michal Schwartz a”h; Riverdale, NY in memory of Robert A. Finkelstein z”l; Brooklyn, NY; Lakewood, NJ Kids/Tweens Konnect sponsored and hosted by Mayer & Chaya Rivka Fischl; Chicago, IL; Baltimore, MD; i-Shine Like Esti Boca Raton in memory of Esti Moskowitz a”h, FL, North Miami Beach, FL; Hollywood FL; Los Angeles, CA sponsored by the Erwin Rautenberg Foundation; and Phoenix, AZ sponsored by the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund and the Center for Jewish Philanthropy of Greater Phoenix. To learn more about Chai Lifeline’s i-Shine afterschool program, visit www.chailifeline.org/ishine

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