Sometimes you see me on the street, waiting at the bus stop on my motorized wheelchair. Your looks are especially pitying when the bus pulls up at the stop and the driver comes out to open the ramp so that I can get on the bus.Continue reading Disability = A Life of Nothing?
It’s a constant refrain at the wedding and the whole week of celebrating parties. Boneh bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel . The couple will build a new home based on Torah values. A home of yiras shomayim (awareness of G-d). A home of chessed.
To build, one must have bricks. One chosson (groom) brought his ‘brick’ to the wedding itself. He had begun forming his ‘brick’ many years before when he became a volunteer for Ezer Mizion’s Special Needs Division. Both at camp and during the school year, he devoted himself to the needs of this very special little boy. Ariel became the pillar that the child and his beleaguered parents would lean on. Ariel would call to find out how his special little friend was doing only to find he had a bad day at school when another child grabbed away his cupcake and gobbled it up. Moments after the phone was hung up, Ariel would appear at the door with a cupcake in hand and his trademark smile, accompanied with a loving hug. Should there be a family simcha (celebration), the parents knew they could count on being able to leave their child with Ariel where they were assured of his receiving the love and attention with all of his needs met.
And, of course, there was camp where Ariel was his counselor. They knew their son was fortunate. Ariel was his counselor 24/7. Every moment of the day. A bunk consisting of one child who basked in his counselor’s love from getting him dressed in the early morning to a goodnight hug at dusk with tons of activities during the day geared just for him.
And now Ariel, at the cusp of building his own home together with his new kallah (bride), made sure to bring his ‘brick’ with him to the chasuna (wedding). As always, his special friend remained close at his side with Ariel keeping an eye out to be sure he had a great time. During the kabolos panim, the dancing and even at the chupah, there he was the first ‘brick’ of their new home. May he and his kallah work together to create many more bricks and may Hashem look down at the home they are building and smile with nachas.
In 1988, Ezer Mizion opened Israel’s first summer camp for children with special needs. Since then, the network of Ezer Mizion special needs summer camps has grown to include 7 camps, over 1,500 staff members and volunteers and over 1,200 children with physical handicaps, brain damage, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, blindness, deafness and emotional disorders. For these youngsters and their families, Ezer Mizion’s summer camps are the highlight of the entire year.
The camps, called “B’Lev Sameach” – literally, “With a Happy Heart” – have a full schedule of exciting activities, outings and recreation from morning to night, with all meals and transportation included. The children enjoy live entertainment, trips to amusement parks, zoos, and beaches, and visits to the Kotel and other special places. All of the children are paired with individual counselors who shower them with one-on-one attention, care, and love.
It’s a giant network. No matter what the need, there always seems to be someone to fill it. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life with its thousands of volunteers listening for the ping, anxious to help out yet another family in need. Recently it was a Down Day. But it wasn’t long before things were looking up indeed. A woman in Tzefat had a Down syndrome baby. That threw her and her entire family into a whirl!
Relatives from Jerusalem, through Ezer Mizion, arranged a bunch of luxurious treats for them on Thursday afternoon. But how to get it all the way to Tzefat? The woman was coming home from the hospital on Friday. That will be the toughest time for the family: sharing the news and the meaning of it with the other kids, while ushering in the Shabbat, and so on and so on ….
Within minutes, a volunteer was found to take the package as far as Haifa. From there, there was a volunteer for after Shabbat to Tzefat. But that wasn’t good enough, because we wanted it to get there before Shabbat…
On Friday morning, we posted a request. The ping was not long in coming. “Just a few minutes ago I decided to drive to Tzefat for Shabbat. Perfect timing. I’ll take it!”
It was a lot. .More than he expected. Their car was fairly full but the family wanted very much to partake in the mitzvah and stuffed the packages on laps and every available inch.
An Ezer Mizion branch in Tzefas is holding their hands now, providing babysitters, hot, beautifully prepared meals and a listening ear. Their biological extended families may be in Jerusalem but they have discovered many ‘family members’ right here via Ezer Mizion.
On this same Down Day, another Downs baby was born to Netivot parents whose families live in Bnei Brak. A recently engaged Ezer Mizion volunteer ‘happened’ to be visiting her the family of her husband-to-be that Shabbos and spent a great deal of time with the mother, to encourage her and to tell her that we are all here for her. Ezer Mizion’s varied divisions will provide for the needs of the family and those of the child as he grows and Linked to Life will ensure the feeling of solidarity with loved ones in Bnai Brak.
Another ‘Up’ for Downs is a powerhouse Ezer Mizion volunteer from Beitar, a mother of a child with Downs, who visits every family that has a baby born with Downs helping them adjust, opening their hearts and minds on accepting and dealing with their new baby.
Pain is traumatizing but the warmth of a hug to augment the professional services will soothe the agony and provide support until the family is able to go it alone.
There he was, unsure where to go but with a determined look on his face. He appeared at the office, said one of the Ezer Mizion directors, an eleven year old boy with Downs Syndrome, looking like he was on a mission. No one brought him to the Ezer Mizion building. He found it on his own, our single-minded hero, and all that remained was to accomplish his goal.
“Are you looking for someone?” I asked him.
“I want to say a giant ‘Thank you’ to Ezer Mizion for the Simchas Beis Hasho’eivah (holiday celebration) that you made on Succos (Feast of Tabernacles) . It was nice! I had so much fun.”
Touched to the core by his sincere words, I called in the rest of the staff and instinctively asked him to bless us. There he stood – a boy? an angel? – with his eyes closed, connecting to Hashem (G-d) in a way that we cannot conceive.Continue reading There He Was
“It was wonderful!”
A young girl was asked about her stay in a corona hotel over Yom Tov (holidays). Her answer shocked the questioner.
“Wonderful???! To be away from your family for Yom Tov? To spend Rosh Hashona, Yom Kippur and Sukos with strangers in a covid hotel?!”Continue reading Wonderful!
Each one was unique yet each one was the same. Each reflected an individualized situation much exacerbated by the Covid-19 situation. Yet each one was a desperate plea, “Please help me!’ sent to the address they have come to rely upon. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life is a whatsapp network spanning Israel and around the globe which receives requests that are as varied as those that send them. It may be a need for transport for an oncology patient, delivery of vital meds, putting together a Bar Mitzvah for a boy whose father is in serious condition, picking up medical equipment for a patient who cannot be released from the hospital without it. The list goes on and on.
During the pandemic, the Linked to Life networks were on fire. Requests didn’t stop. Linked to Life coordinated with other divisions of Ezer Mizion and was there for everyone in their time of need. Was it ten requests, a hundred, two hundred? and make no mistake. Each request did not have a one-step resolution. ‘I would check the network and come back half a day later and see 600 more.’ said a staff member who had access to the network. See chart above for the amazing numbers, all performed by our dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers.
At the same time, all the other Ezer Mizion divisions – Bone Marrow Registry, Golden Age, Special Needs, Mental Health, Cancer Support, Transportation, Food Disbursement – were working at full speed. If we were to add those numbers, the totals would be mind boggling! How does this happen? Because of you, our invaluable friends and supporters!
It’s a tradition! The families look forward to it for weeks. It’s not like the others.
Chanukah parties take place all over the country but even the family party can be uncomfortable for parents with special children. While their siblings rejoice in the annual get-together, relaxed, enjoying each other’s company, the special needs parent cannot relax for a moment. Her sister worked hard on a fun kids’ activity. Will her child overturn the perfectly set-up table resulting in children’s tears and adults’ pitying stares? The cousins grab hands. They have plans. They want to put on a choir for the adults and are running down to the basement to practice. They don’t mean to be cruel when they don’t invite her child but her heart cries. She tries to comfort him as her tears mingle with his. Continue reading This One is for Us!
Since 2007 Ezer Mizion has been chosen as a participant in the U.S. government program’s Combined Federal Campaign that offers federal employees the opportunity of making contributions to non-profit organizations by payroll deductions. Continue reading Giving at the Workplace for Federal Employees via CFC
Since 2007 Ezer Mizion has been chosen as a participant in the U.S. government program’s Combined Federal Campaign that offers federal employees the opportunity of making contributions to non-profit organizations by payroll deductions. Continue reading Giving at the Workplace: CFC for Federal Employees