A Weekend to Remember – Chesed 24/7’s Annual Retreat for Individuals with Special Needs


chessed-24-7The excitement was almost tangible as the 150 participants of Chesed 24/7’s Annual Labor Day Weekend Shabbaton came streaming in, with luggage, ruach, and eager smiles.

Every year, SHARE 24/7, a division of Chesed 24/7, takes individuals with developmental disabilities and other special needs to a resort in upstate New York for an unforgettable weekend.  The devoted SHARE volunteers and staff members make every effort to ensure that each participant feels like a real VIP.  Differences and disabilities melt away and all that is left are the bonds of true friendship, acceptance, and love.  The beauty of the Shabbaton is that everyone from all walks of life come together in unity to give these special individuals non-stop fun, entertainment and simcha.

This year’s remarkable program and inspirational Shabbos meals that followed were indescribable.  Every Shabbaton participant felt unique and important and every staff member went out of their way to give the participants the time of their lives.  The constant singing, cheering, and dancing reflected the joyous mood.  Participants enjoyed a petting zoo, indoor and outdoor swimming, craft projects, games and rides, a barbeque, a magic show, a mock wedding, a brachos party, skits, divreitorah, singing — and of course, an endless amount of delicious food.

The most anticipated part of the program was the incredible Motzei Shabbos concert, which was an extremely heartwarming and uplifting experience.  The simcha it generated was extraordinary, causing everyone to momentarily forget their challenges and dance late into the night with the leibidig music.   It was a magical experience to see individuals who deal every day with an array of different developmental and physical disabilities feel on top of the world, accepted, supported, and loved.

The weekend was a tremendous success and left every Shabbaton member invigorated and inspired. As one participant correctly said, “It was amazing to see these children (and adults) smile and be so, so happy. Just to see it… was beyond words.” Mission accomplished.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}