When Yankie Goldstein* was diagnosed with cancer and rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, his parents were overwhelmed, anxious and uncertain. They found the chizuk and assistance they needed when a hospital social worker suggested they call Chai Lifeline Lakewood. Rabbi Sruli Fried, MSW, Regional Director of Chai Lifeline, visited the family in the hospital that very day and introduced them to Chai Lifeline’s vast support network, making that first bleak day a little bit warmer.
“When I met the Goldsteins, they were still in shock from the diagnosis and were suddenly faced with the frightening prospect of immediate surgery and months upon months of complicated treatment and uncertainty,” he explained. “That first day, the Goldsteins, like many families we meet in the hospital, just needed to know that we were there. I arranged meals for the family so that they would have the strength they needed to care for Yankie and their other children, and I made sure they knew that I was available whenever they needed me for whatever assistance I could offer.”
“We approach oncology patients and children or teens with chronic conditions differently,” explained Miss Naomi Stavsky, one of their case managers. “Both groups need immense amounts of help, but while oncology patients often receive their life-changing diagnosis overnight, those diagnosed with chronic, lifelong conditions may have more time to come to terms with an emerging diagnosis.
“In more than two decades of service, Chai Lifeline has helped thousands of children and their families,” explained Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline International. “The cumulative experience of the organization and the individual expertise of our case managers translate into chizuk and guidance for our families.”
“Chai Lifeline revolutionized the process of obtaining care and support,” commented Rabbi Fried. “Before Chai Lifeline, families had to go to one place for meals, a second for transportation, and a third for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Now, not only is there a single agency that offers all this help under one roof, but every family has a case manager dedicated to assuring that families have everything they need to move forward.”
Chai Lifeline offers daily living and hospital support, including professional case management, the delivery of heimishe meals to homes and hospital rooms, transportation to and from the hospital and doctors appointments, financial assistance, insurance support, hospital visits, and overnight respite both at home and the hospital, making hospital stays and medical treatment less stressful for Chai Lifeline families.
“No two families require the same support,” explained Rabbi Fried. “At any given time, one family may need hospital-based services, another may need home support, while a third might need everything we have to offer. And our families’ needs are dynamic. They change as the patient’s treatment and development progress.
“Chai Lifeline’s help is not cookie-cutter. We bring each family what they need to make their life more manageable, which often means thinking outside of the box. Chai Lifeline has more than two-dozen, year-round programs and services, but we help in many more ways than that. From procuring obscure medical equipment to arranging last-minute international flights, you name it and we’ve done it.”
In fact, for many families, the name “Chai Lifeline” is a direct translation of “personal service.” When crisis or tragedy strike, Chai Lifeline’s Project C.H.A.I. (Chizuk, Healing, and Intervention) sends professionals and trained volunteers to yeshivos, schools, and the entire community to help them cope with the crisis or loss.
In the last year, this innovative partnership has given hundreds of members of our kehillah powerful tools to respond to tragedy and the unbearable sadness of loss, r”l. Chai Lifeline Lakewood is supported by the generosity of individuals in our kehillah. Chai Lifeline’s annual reception, scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, 27 Tammuz/July 14, at Ateres Chana Hall at Bais Faiga, raises a major portion of its yearly budget. The attendance and hishtatfus of every yochid in the kehillah will ensure that Chai Lifeline Lakewood will be there for any family in need. For more information, call 732.719.1700
*Names have been changed