School is back in session and Chai Lifeline regions across the country are kicking off the academic year with their trademark energy and excitement.
i-Shine, Chai Lifeline’s afterschool program for elementary school children living with illness or loss in their homes, begins this month. The program meets typically meets twice a week at a local school or community center during afterschool hours. High school students and adults are recruited as mentors to help younger children with their homework as well as organizing fun activities such as sports, special trips, and arts and crafts. In some regions, dinner and transportation to and from the program are also provided.
“The mentors we look for are responsible, personable, caring, and have leadership qualities,” said Andy Lauber, Director of i-Shine Five Towns and Teaneck. “Each year around 800 children across North America benefit from i-Shine’s dynamic programming and personal touch. Our goal is to make sure that each child living with the challenges of illness or loss receives personal one-on-one attention from someone who genuinely cares. i-Shine also gives these children the opportunity to be around peers going through similar experiences. Our welcoming environment allows them to have fun and feel a sense of belonging.”
“I love volunteering for i-Shine and spending time with the girls,” said Melissa Shabat, an i-Shine Midwest mentor based in Chicago. “Being involved in i-Shine has taught me how the simplest things that we do for someone can have a huge impact on them.”
To help Chai Lifeline families get ready for school, 350 backpacks by Bari Lynn Accessories were distributed to children and families living with pediatric illness in the New York/New Jersey area. Elisheva Fishman, a member of Chai Lifeline’s Young Builders Society, recently hosted a school supplies packaging event at her home in Monsey, NY, for children ages six to nine benefitting Chai Lifeline. The girls packed school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, folders, erasers and highlighters in Bari Lynn backpacks to donate to Chai Lifeline families.
“I wanted to impart the message to my children on the importance of being involved and giving back to those in need of extra support,” said Fishman. “For families who are caring for a sick child and struggling to manage every day, giving them a beautifully decorated backpack with all the school supplies that they need is a great way of showing that we care.”
At a similar event in Englewood, NJ, more than 30 children packed school supplies into backpacks for Chai Lifeline kids. The event took place at East Hill Synagogue and was organized by Young Builder Society member Julia Baruch.
One Chai Lifeline family expressed their appreciation for the backpacks in a note: “Once our daughters received the backpacks, they couldn’t take them off! They even wore them at breakfast – that’s how excited they were!”