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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Vitamin G

Giving makes the grumpiness go away

Woke up in a grumpy mood today? We have a sure-fire cure. Works every time. It’s a one-word recipe: Giving. Ask Shmuel and his wife, Batsheva. They are members of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a  whatsappp network where rides and deliveries  are handled to ease the burden of the ill. It may be a ride to therapy for an elderly patient or procurement of forgotten meds for a Parkinsons patient visiting his children. Perhaps a desperately needed ‘bankie’ for a hospitalized toddler or delivery of blood samples needed asap. Often only seconds elapse before the response comes in from one of the thousands of Linked to Life members: I’m on my way there and can pick it up in ten minutes.  This time it was a woman in desperate need of a walker not available through any of the standard sources. No problem. A few phone calls to friends by Shmuel and Batsheva resulted in enough funds raised to purchase a new walker, perfect for her needs. Note the smile on Shmuel’s face as he hand-delivers it to her door.

Battling cancer with puxxles

Then there is Elad. He has a different name when dealing with Ezer Mizion’s young cancer patients.  He is known as The Puzzle Man. There he is making his way with an immense pile of puzzles. Each child receives his choice and begins to work on it with Elad at his side cheering him on. The challenge takes their mind off the pain and fears they are dealing with and instills a feeling of confidence and accomplishment boosting their image of positivity.   The discipline and patience will spill over into his day by day battle with a monster named Cancer. The puzzle’s triumphant completion acts as a metaphor for the victorious completion of treatment accompanied by the longed-for glorious announcement: REMISSION!

If i can conquer that puzzle, i can conquer cancer, too!

Kofiko’s smile is hidden deep inside his monkey costume. Children know him as a popular entertainer in Israel  and can hardly believe he is sitting right there with them in the hospital room whose walls are now reverberating with squeals and giggles.  

Kofiko loves me!

Along with cancer’s frightening medical repercussions, the dreaded disease brings with it a host of other challenges, and drains families’ physical, emotional and financial resources. The Ezer Mizion Cancer Support Division offers cancer patients and their families comfort, love and support, as well as an array of services tailored to meet their unique needs: Oranit, Ezer Mizion’s guest home for children with cancer and their families, is a beautiful home away from home for families battling the dreaded illness“Mikol Halev”: From the Heart provides sick children with VIP visitors, parties, entertainers, gifts, computers, and games, and coordinates unique summer and winter retreats for cancer patients and their families.

Fun, fun and more fun! A powerful tool in fighting disease!

Vitamin G – Giving – one tablet a day puts a smile not only on the recipient’s face but erases grumpiness and brings joy to the giver, too.

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Wherever, Whatever, Whenever We’re Needed

Giving…with all our heart

Do you know where Kiryat Shemoneh is? Many people have never heard of it.  It’s a-l-l the way up North in Israel. Somewhere out there at the far, far end of the country. Geographically so distant from the nearest metropolis.  A bit lonely, perhaps, but certainly not alone.   Even there, Ezer Mizion’s dedicated volunteer works hard to prepare Shabbat meals for a lonely patient, spiced with lots of love. She does it together with dozens of other volunteers, who share one giant heart. Together they arrange meals for patients and their families for weekdays and Shabbat, feeding dozens of patients, adults and children, dispersed throughout the North, from Netanya all the way up to Kiryat Shemoneh

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