The Power of a Tuna Fish Sandwich

Volunteering

A volunteer accepts an assignment. What does that mean? In Ezer Mizion language it means to give over her whole heart. Like the middle-aged volunteer asked to help out a mother with MS. The mother was so severely handicapped that her six-year-old son once shouted at her: How can you be a mother if you can’t do anything?! Words that pierced through the mother’s soul. She was hurting and so were her children. They needed caring and she was unable to provide it. And so ‘Grandma’ joined the family. She was not actually related but what difference does that make for an Ezer Mizion volunteer? She took over in the practical details plus all the extras. A new style knapsack like all the other kids have. A new dress for a classmate’s birthday party.  Every single item on the beginning-of-the-school-year teachers’ lists plus a pen that could write in four colors. A Chol Hamoed (holiday) trip. Chanukah gifts. She even bought the six-year-old a scooter. There was a big black, empty hole before she came. Now their days are colored pink, filling the empty spaces as only a grandmother can do. 

Another volunteer tells the story of how she joined Ezer Mizion’s army of volunteers:

“Eat. Just a little.” In one hand she held a sandwich. The other was patting me on the shoulder. With such warmth. Such love. Such caring.

Twenty years ago, my son was critically wounded in a terrorist attack. They brought him to Sheba-Tel Hashomer Hospital, sedated and intubated. I knew that his days were numbered.

“A little more,” she gently urged me.

“I can’t! It’s my son!  He’s in a coma! They say….they say…he’ll never…”

She held me tight. I felt protected in her embrace.

“Eat. You need strength.”

I hadn’t eaten all day. Maybe for longer than that. Time didn’t exist. Only my son existed as he lay there in a hospital bed.  Dying.

“How can I eat?” I sobbed. “Soon my son will be gone.”

“You need strength. Strength to cry.”

She held my hand and fed me. Each bite laced in compassion.   I felt her strength holding me up. I finished that sandwich. To this day I can taste that tuna. And I began to feel stronger. Able to handle come what may.

I made a promise when she left. “Hashem (G-d), if my son wakes up. I promise You. I promise that I will become that volunteer. I will volunteer for Ezer Mizion and be on the giving end. For Your children, Hashem. For all your children who are in pain.

Four hours passed. I sat there. Waiting. Dreading. And praying.

Suddenly were shouts. Nurses. Doctors. They came running. The whole medical team stood there in shock.

I sat there frozen. Numb. Unable to process what was happening right before my eyes. Little by little… my son whom I had already begun to part from…began… to wake up. He looked at me. My precious son. And I remembered my promise to the ultimate Healer. A promise I never forgot. For twenty years, I have tried to give back what I received that day from the Ezer Mizion volunteer. The power of a tuna sandwich when garnished with love.

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We’re There When It Hurts

Cancer support at Ezer Mizion encompasses the whole family

“But Ima promised. For sure shell be back! She told me before she left!!” Shevy’s young heart broke as she tried to absorb the news. She was only eleven, well, almost twelve, too fragile to handle the bitter disappointment. Too small to comprehend the big picture. Not to have her mother at her side for her Bas Mitzvah? To celebrate without Mommy’s support? It was unthinkable. Yet it was happening and Shevy was inconsolable.

Shevy felt a hand on her shoulder. A warm hand, a loving hand. The same lady who had been helping their family since Mommy went to America for treatments.   It wasn’t Mommy but it was someone who cared. “Your eyes are such a pretty shade of blue. Let’s go shopping for a Bas Mitzvah dress. Maybe we can find something to match your eyes.  Something really pretty. Would you like something with lace?” Bit by bit, the Bas Mitzvah party took shape through the efforts of Ezer Mizion.   Yes, there were tears but they were outnumbered by the smiles. A gorgeous dress! Balloons! Gifts! The fanciest sweet table in town! And hugs… and love. Ezer Mizion: We’re there when it hurts.

Cancer support with love

And even when it hurts us. When our efforts to offer support will tear our own hearts to shreds. When the thought of what we are asked to do leaves us limp and shaky but we know it will help a family who is undergoing a horrendous crisis that no one should ever know of.

Cancer support till the very end

When we are asked to transport a little girl from the hospital to her home and back again. Her last trip home. To enable her family to say goodbye. Before she leaves this world. Forever.

Shuki Becker, one of Ezer Mizion’s devoted Ambulance Division members, undertook the assignment. Equipped with an oxygen tank and the paraphernalia to monitor her closely during her stay and armed with a prayer book to give himself the strength to support this precious soul in her last hours, this angel began the trip that meant so much to her family. 

Ever so gently, she was brought to her favorite spots in her home. Ever so gently, her family spoke to her, caressed her. Over and over they talked of the funny stories they had shared, her favorite foods she always chose for her birthday supper, the time she won the game three times in a row.

They were scheduled to leave for the hospital at seven o’clock but the family couldn’t let go.

Another memory. Another fun time. Another ounce of love to add to the package she would be taking on her final trip.

Her numbers looked good and so the visit continued. Parents, grandparents, siblings. Each reaching out and giving of themselves. A lifetime of love condensed into a few short hours. And then it was time to say the final goodbyes. Final.

May Moshiach come soon to wipe away our tears.

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Saluting our Linked to Life Members

Would you mind picking up…?

They’re on the way from here to there and suddenly receive a request to detour. “Can you pick up something, or perhaps someone, from ‘not too far from here’  and bring it to ‘not too far from there’? Let’s be honest. What is the reaction of the average person? Annoyance? Resentment? But our Linked to Life volunteers are special. Some of them do this every day. And some of them, whenever possible, make the trip even when they had not intended to go. Just to help out another person. It may be a family member of a cancer patient who needs a ride to the hospital. Or perhaps some specialized medical equipment urgently needed or test tubes that must reach the lab asap.

Linked to Life is a whatsapp network run by Ezer Mizion where those dealing with illness can always call for help. Just like they would call a family member. Because we’re all family. Often a response arrives within seconds and our volunteers will bend over backwards to do it right…with kindness, with creativity and with a warm smile.

Yoni is just one of the Linked to Life members. He and his wife originally planned a vacation for this summer but when they weighed the enjoyment they would have touring vacation sites against the deep joy and satisfaction of their Linked to Life activities, the latter won by a mile. During the year, their time is limited but vacation days are completely free. And so the Linked to Life vacation became a reality. Each morning, Yoni used his vacation money to purchase gas and then it was Ready, Set, Go. Their days were filled with driving family members to and from hospitals, picking up urgently needed meds. Requests kept pouring in and Yoni with his wife were there to fill them smiling at each other, their hearts filled with joy.   Yoni is just one of our devoted Linked to Life members.

And that is why we at Ezer Mizion decided that an Evening of Recognition is so well deserved. It was a fantastic evening that included swimming, games and great food. The camaraderie was tangible as hundreds shared an evening of fun.

And the highlight? The icing on the cake of this very special evening was the opportunity to join the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry and someday hear those electrifying words: You have saved a life!

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Right There With You

Were you ever sitting in the hospital Family Room?  Alone. Terrified. Only yards away is the OR. Your mother is there. Your mother! Scenes flash through your mind. The time she held you tight while you cried because your pet goldfish had died. The time she ran out late at night to buy you the soda you needed for the siyum and had forgotten to mention till the last minute. And now she is lying helpless on an operating table. You’re so scared.  They said it will take only 45 minutes. It’s been almost an hour. What’s going on???! Is she ok? Maybe they were just delayed in starting? Maybe. But your imagination is not letting you relax. You try to go back to your prayer book. But the letters are blurred. It’s hard to see through tears.  You have to know! But who can you ask? The lady at the desk? Surely not her. She bit your head off when you asked her where you can charge your phone.

You look up from the prayer book. There standing in front of you is a kindly looking woman in an Ezer Mizion jacket. With a smile. And a cup of hot coffee in her hand. “What would you like to go with the coffee…a Danish? Slice of sponge cake?”

Coffee garnished with caring and compassion

You extend your hand gratefully and reach for the ever-so-welcome coffee.

“Do you have someone in the OR? Would you like me to check on how things are going for you?” she asks gently.

Is this a dream, you wonder.  In moments she returns with reassuring words. All is fine with your mother. They’re finishing up and the doctor will be out soon to speak to you. They weren’t able to start on time and that’s why they’re a little late. Nothing to worry about. Now what kind of cake can I get you?”

Suddenly you’re starved. “A cinnamon Danish. No, make that two!”

 Recently ten of our new volunteers finished their training and went into action at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. From now on, when a person undergoes surgery, his family members will no longer have to worry alone. Our volunteers will be there to act as liaison between the staff and the family member providing reassurance and the comfort of an energizing snack to take the place of the breakfast you were probably too nervous to eat. We certainly hope none of your loved ones will be in need of surgery. But if they will be, we’ll be right there with you.     

Training as liaisons between family and surgical team

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Thank You to Our CFC Friends

11583

Life has been difficult for all of us these past months as we strive to deal with the aftermath of covid and it has been especially grueling for the ill and the elderly.  Your friendship and support via CFC have eased the plight of hundreds of thousands who find themselves unable to cope with life’s challenges. On behalf of all those that have benefited from your generosity, we’d like to say

Thank you for caring!

A young boy who, at the age of eleven when nothing could be hidden from him, was forced to deal with the possibility of his life ending before he reached twelve. Because you cared, he is now looking forward to adulthood after a stem cell transplant which your generosity helped to fund.

Because you cared, families dealing with the terrors of cancer are licking ice cream cones at Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camp where they can relax on a ‘vacation from cancer’.

Because you cared, Louisa, a holocaust survivor was given a gift for her 102nd birthday: a trip to the Western Wall with all the logistics it entailed.

Because you cared, a young disabled woman was given a place at Ezer Mizion’s Empowerment Center where she enjoys social contact and learns important skills like 3-D printing. At the annual fair, she gained much confidence as guests clamored to purchase her creations.

Because you cared, Ezer Mizion’s Ambulance Division is able to bring hundreds of the elderly daily to clinics and treatment centers. A slot was even found to bring together nine elderly siblings who had not seen each other for so long.

Because you cared, a five year old is talking to his mother non-stop, his every question beginning with ‘why’. As draining as it is, his mother is enjoying it because as of only a year ago, his whole vocabulary consisted of ten words. Ezer Mizion’s hi-tech communication devices did the trick and he is now fully verbal.   

Ezer Mizion is fueled by the gifts of concerned, responsible people like you.

For further info on our many divisions, we invite you to visit us at www.ezermizion.org

We urge you to continue your support via CFC and sign up once again choosing Ezer Mizion-CFC #11583– as one of your charity choices.

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Giving a Voice to Those Who Cannot Speak

AAC technology gave him a voice!

“Mommy, did you see that airplane? It looks so little. How can people fit in it? When I get big, I’m gonna go in an airplane and I’ll wave to you when I pass our house. Can we have meatballs ‘n’ spaghetti for supper tonight? And can I stay up late now ‘cuz I’m five and a quarter?  Mommy, how come babies don’t have any teeth? Mommy, I have a big boo-boo on my finger. See! It’s giant! Can I have a band-aid? Mommy, how come my thumb goes out sideways and all the other fingers go up straight? Ooo – Abba just came home. I’m going to show him my boo-boo.”

Mommy breathed a sigh of relief as the kitchen became quiet. Finally. But it wasn’t always that way. It was less than a year ago that little Eli*’s vocabulary consisted of a total of ten words. Four years old and only ten words! Even those were unclear and difficult to understand. E. was born with a chromosome deficiency that manifested itself in severe developmental delays. They were advised to begin an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) program and borrowed a communication iPad from Ezer Mizion’s AAC Lending Library which provides hi-tech communication devices together with guidance, advice and support. The family’s efforts to boost his speech soon began to show results and Eli* began repeating words he had never spoken before.  The family was amazed but their amazement soon turned to disbelief when Eli*’s vocabulary broadened and he uttered his first sentence. Things began to snowball after that and one year later, the family returned the ipad. Why? It was no longer needed. Their child had become fully verbal.

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