Over 100 members of Chai Lifeline West Coast’s Young Leaders Initiative gathered at the home of Marilyn and Jaime Sohacheski on June 17 for an evening of fun and inspiration at Chai Lifeline West Coast’s Fifth Annual Summer Soiree. The evening of appreciation recognized the commitment and support of Chai Lifeline’s Young Leaders—couples and individuals in their 20s, 30s and early 40s who champion Chai Lifeline’s mission of enhancing the lives of children and families living with serious illness or loss in their homes.
While the evening featured cocktails and a dinner buffet under the starlit sky in the Sohacheski’s beautiful garden, the highlight of the evening was hearing from two speakers who shared their personal experiences with Chai Lifeline. Mrs. Nadia Heckman, whose 3-year-old son, Lazar, is battling a brain tumor, spoke about the 24/7support she has received from Chai Lifeline. “I came here tonight to say thank you to all of you, Chai Lifeline Young Leaders, for supporting this organization and allowing them to help kids like Lazar and families like mine. I don’t know how we would manage without them!”
Sixteen-year-old Bina, who was diagnosed with a chronic illness five years ago, shared memories from the magical summers she enjoyed at Camp Simcha, Chai Lifeline’s flagship program for seriously ill children and teens. “Because of my illness, I would never be able to have the same carefree experience as other kids,” Bina shared. “Chai Lifeline and my amazing summers at Camp Simcha changed all of this for me. Camp Simcha gave me hope that I’m not alone in this fight and gave me the childhood I would otherwise not have had.”
Natalie Williams, Associate Principal of Yeshiva University Los Angeles Girls School, and a Chai Lifeline Young Leader, spoke about her family’s involvement in Chai Lifeline. Her son, Adriel, participated in Chai Lifeline’s newly launched Simcha Junior Volunteers, a program for middle school students. “Adriel is very proud to be a Chai Lifeline volunteer. He enjoyed going through the trainings and learned so much about chessed, empathy and the importance of giving back to others.” Mrs. Williams also spoke about the important role Chai Lifeline serves in helping schools and communities through crises. “Chai Lifeline has been here for YULA to guide and assist us during difficult times. We know we can call them and they will be here to help us through the crisis.”
Moshe Buchman, who served as master of ceremonies for the evening, discussed the growth of the initiative since its inception five years ago. He also talked about the many opportunities that Young Leaders and their children can participate in throughout the year at Chai Lifeline programs and events, such as Chanukah Angels, and the Buchman Birthday Initiative, where sponsors create birthday parties for sick kids in honor of their own birthdays.
The evening was capped off with an exceptionally fun and competitive trivia game, followed by a delicious dessert bar.