For Chai Lifeline, it is of the utmost importance that seriously ill children and their families have the opportunity to lead normal and fulfilling lives. The organization’s members, including 7,000 volunteers worldwide, strive to give emotional and social support to those struggling with illness by offering a wide variety of services and experiences to provide children, families and communities with a peace of mind that is otherwise hard to come by.
Chai Lifeline is most well-known for their summer program Camp Simcha, a camp in Glen Spey, NY that offers a full range of camp activities to children on active treatment, one of the only cancer camps to do so. Camp Simcha Special was initiated in 2001, the first camp designed to accommodate the needs of children with more than 60 different diagnoses. The programs offer traditional camp activities such as craft making, sports, talent shows, swimming, boating and much more. All equipment is modified to be accessible to every child. There is also a family center on the campus for families to stay while camp isn’t in session, if they need it.
Aside from Camp Simcha, Chai Lifeline offers a number of special events and programs for ill children and families, such as family days, holiday parties, sporting events and live shows. In the past, Chai Lifeline has helped organize trips to the Super Bowl, Orlando trips to the various theme parks, and even a 10-day trip to Israel for teens called “Wish at the Wall.”
The organization runs Chai House, a residence located near The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to house families spending longer periods of time in the hospital. Chai Lifeline gives kids educational assistance too, with services like ChaiLink connecting homebound children to classrooms via webcam, and the Homebound Educational Learning Program for tutoring children who are recovering or in the hospital.
Chai Lifeline aims to help the families who are struggling alongside their ill child. The organization offers Big Brothers and Sisters to ill children, and extends this service to siblings as well. Insurance support, case managers, and counselors guide parents in dealing with their child’s illness, building long-lasting relationships in the process. Chai Lifeline also provides transportation to and from medical appointments, and sends meals to patients’ homes when parents are too busy caring for their sick child, ensuring that every member of the family is taken care off.
In addition, Chai Lifeline is dedicated to contributing to the community, and has developed the Project C.H.A.I. Crisis Intervention program, which aids parents, children, teachers, and clergy in coping with traumatic events. The team specializes in providing emotional and professional support to all members of the community. The project has helped communities work through tragedies such as Leiby Kletzky’s death in 2011 and natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The Charatan/Holm Family Foundation is proud to support Chai Lifeline’s admirable goal of raising the emotional quality of life for children with chronic or genetic illnesses, and their non-medical contributions provide overwhelming support for the families and communities who need it most. With so many different services that assist communities in a multitude of ways, Chai Lifeline demonstrates their passion for allowing children and their families to feel hope, comfort, and above all, a sense of normalcy.