Staff Spotlight: Sheva Katz, Chai Lifeline West Coast Manager of i-Shine & Volunteer Services

I was drawn to Chai Lifeline because, unlike many organizations that help children with illnesses, Chai Lifeline provides support and services for the entire family. When one person in a family is sick, everyone is affected in different ways. I was the child who was sick. I know how my illness affected me, but, more than that, I know how much of a toll it took on my parents and siblings. Chai Lifeline works with the whole family to make sure every need is met, and every person is cared for. My health issues began when I was 12 and since then I knew I wanted to help children who were affected by illness. I’m trained as a Child Life Specialist and worked at children’s hospitals supporting children and families. My chronic health issues made continuing that role nearly impossible, but I still wanted to do something meaningful for families facing illness. When Chai Lifeline West Coast was hiring a program coordinator for i-Shine, I knew it was the perfect place for me to utilize my experience and channel my passion into helping children.

A moment at i-Shine that really stands out to me took place a couple years ago. There were two siblings who had been attending i-Shine for three years. When they joined the program, their father had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Over the years we supported them through their father’s worsening illness, eventual passing, and their healing after the loss. I watched them go from happy, innocent children, to quiet and withdrawn and then, finally, to happier, more mature versions of the children I had first met. On the last night of i-Shine, their mother came upstairs to pick them up. She stood in the doorway watching her children smiling and laughing with their volunteers. When I went over to her, she hugged me tightly and said, “Look. Look what we did.  Thank you for everything.” At that moment I internalized how important i-Shine is and the difference it can make for children and their families. 

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