Tell us about yourself Racheli. What made you decide to join Chai Lifeline?
I’ve been living in Baltimore for close to 15 years and have taught in Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School for 11 years. I am PTA president at Torah Institute where my sons go to Yeshiva and have daughters in Bais Yaakov. I began my work at Chai Lifeline in March of 2022.
As the director at Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic, my role involves overseeing and managing the programs and services in the Mid-Atlantic region and working to ensure everything runs smoothly and effectively. My previous experience working with students and their families allowed me to develop relationships working with and for families, and I am inspired by the mission of Chai Lifeline and appreciate the opportunity to continue to support families in our community and have a positive impact on other children and families facing serious illness, trauma, and loss.
Summer’s coming – what does Chai Lifeline have planned?
We are thrilled to bring back “Camp Simcha Without Borders” for our local families in summer 2023! Chai Lifeline launched the local branches of the famed ‘Camp Simcha’ experience during Covid-19 when campers couldn’t travel, and it was such a success that we have kept it going since. Campers experience non-stop activities, spirit and action, music, swimming and more in the local camp taking place at the home of David and Rachel Warschawski.
The boys camp will take place July 10 through 13, followed by the girls’ session scheduled for August 10 through 16. And of course, a highlight of this summer is our incredible and high-energy family fun day that will be open to the community on Sunday, August 13. More information will be shared but we are excited about a family day with a fantastic inflatable park and activities for all ages – with food, fun and family time, of course. We look forward to seeing everyone there! Stay tuned!
What is so special about Camp Simcha Without Borders?
The impact of Camp Simcha Without Borders extends beyond the campers themselves, who truly feel they can be themselves and not think about illness or disability when they are at camp. During the year, these warrior children and their siblings are often the ‘different ones’ in their world, the ones who are always dealing with treatments, limitations, differences and more. Here, in camp, they are just like everyone else and are giving the ability to enjoy themselves and the activities just like everyone else.
The power of Camp Simcha Without Borders reaches the families of the campers, of course, but also the community who can see the impact that Chai Lifeline has on families managing illness or loss. It gives them the opportunity to see first-hand how their support and involvement, whether as a local volunteer or financial supporter, is impacting those who need the support most.
What programs does Chai Lifeline run throughout the year?
Chai Lifeline provides a range of comprehensive and individualized services designed to meet the unique needs of each family going through serious illness or loss. Our Big Brother/Big Sister Program matches trained and caring volunteers with children who can benefit from a supportive mentor. These mentors provide companionship, guidance and friendship and the program has proven to be a valuable source of emotional support and positive experiences for our young participants.
Our programs for siblings and for parents provide support and recreational activities for family members of children with serious illnesses. It’s a safe space to share experiences, build friendships with others who understand their situation and receive guidance from trained professionals.
Day to day, our customized case management looks to meet the needs of each child and each family throughout their medical journey with an eye on family stability. Throughout the year, we organize various outings, holiday celebrations and parties, and therapeutic activities for the well-being and resilience of our families and we are dedicated to providing year-round support and lasting memories for the children and families we serve.
We also respond to all forms of trauma and provide crisis services and resources to individuals, families, schools, synagogues in the community.
How can people in the community be involved?
Chai Lifeline is always open for community involvement and volunteers – as mentors, camp counselors, drivers for medical appointments, and so much more. To learn more about our work, to volunteer or to support our mission, please visit: www.chailifeline.org/midatlantic.