Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

The View from Both Ends

July 4, 2018

helping handssIt feels good to give. Seeing the joy on another person’s face because of something that you did is an experience that cannot be defined. I know about that. I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life awhile back. L2L is  WhatsApp group that can be called for rides, deliveries of vital supplies and a zillion other requests by people who are dealing with serious illness. I’ve given rides to many people. Sometimes it’s a young mother counting the seconds until she can be back at the bedside of her baby who is fighting for his life at the hospital. She had planned to go by bus – even though she is beyond exhausted – until someone mentioned that she should try calling Linked to Life. In a few minutes, I appear at her doorstep, ready to give her door-to-door service. The utter joy on her face is the ‘gas’ that keeps me going even though, shortly before the request call came in, I was ready to fall into bed myself. Then there was the time I answered a call to pick up a vital blood sample from the airport and bring it to a doctor. “I’ve got a ten-year-old child waiting at the hospital. This little tube of blood can save her life,” the doctor thanked me. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you that those words made me feel seven feet tall.

 

But now I want to tell you about another ride to Tel HaShomer Hospital. This time I wasn’t the driver. This time I was the drivee.  A family member was ill and all of us rallied to take shifts. But normal responsibilities did not disappear. A full workday remained. Homework with kids etc. You all know the routine. And on top of it all, the trip to the hospital via a couple of buses. Suddenly a precious Ezer Mizion volunteer appears. For him, too, it is the end/beginning/middle of a work day, but, with a big smile, he takes you to the hospital and back. Just like I never fully realized what I was doing, he cannot even imagine what a huge chessed he is doing with this “simple” ride.

I greet my relative and take care of his needs until he is ready for a nap. Then I wander around the hospital ward and notice a mother looking very frightened. When I ask her how I can help out, she explains that there is a special medication that she’d left at home. Quickly, I ‘flip to my other hat’. I send a message to the Linked to Life coordinator: Who can deliver a medicine from Bnei Brak to the hospital? Almost instantly, someone responds to fill her need.

The happiness, the emotion, and the blessings that burst forth from that mother’s heart the moment the medicine arrived!

I meet here the wonderful Ezer Mizion volunteers who come to give out coffee, cake, and hot food to family members during the long, hard waiting time. When I ask them how they got here and how they are getting home, they answer proudly – “With the Linked to Life volunteers.”

Dear fellow Linked to Life members, you are an important and critical part of this remarkable chessed chain of Ezer Mizion.   At moments like these, I am prouder than ever to be a member of this holy group. In the hope and prayer that all of us should always be on the giving end – only.

Want to join Linked to Life? No matter where on the planet you live, you will be welcomed.

SMS 011 972 52 580 8936

 

Advertisements

What the Kids Have Discovered

July 6, 2017

helping handssSome say that the new generation is steeped in materialism and can’t see past their ipod screens. Is it true? A recent event in Israel honoring junior volunteers yielded some surprises.

Last summer, M, a sixth grader, noticed something strange going on in her neighbor’s home. “There are two children living there, and I understood that their mother had cancer. She was undergoing treatments, and some of the time, was even hospitalized. And those kids were home alone.” M. decided to help. She invited the kids to her house, which turned into a regular practice. “They come every day after school, eat lunch, do their homework with me and play games. They go home only when a relative arrives to be with them.” M. didn’t see anything extraordinary about what she had been doing but the organizers at the event thought differently and she was singled out for an award.

S joined M on stage also unsure of why she was there. “We have an elderly neighbor with no children or family, and also, almost no money. I think that he doesn’t always even have what to eat. I come to him almost every day with food, sit with him a bit and speak to him. It’s just regular. Anyone would do it.”

Many of these children have discovered Ezer Mizion as the place where there is always a need for chessed. Z has been volunteering for Ezer Mizion since she was seven years old. She just walked in to Ezer Mizion and asked to volunteer. “They didn’t understand what I wanted. After all, I was just a little kid. They smiled and gave me a few jobs, thinking I’d soon get tired and go home. It’s been five years since then, and I’m still there. Twice a week (“Before Yom Tov, every day, and during vacation, all day”)

I come straight from school, put down my book bag in a corner, and get to work. I arrange meal trays, pack up vegetables, and give food to anyone who comes with a note. Sometimes, I go to the preschools and pick up non-perishable leftovers from lunch. Sometimes, I deliver food packages to people’s homes, and other times, I make order in the storeroom, depending on what needs to be done.”

Don’t you ever feel that your volunteering comes at the expense of other fun things, like music or art lessons, or spending time with friends?

“It gives me a good feeling to volunteer, and I also enjoy it. If I have a lesson or club, or if I make up to meet with a friend, I go there after I finish at Ezer Mizion. Before Yom Tov, I was there every day and I helped pack up food packages. I think that helping people who are in need is more important than all the other stuff. It also makes you feel good, in your heart. It leaves you with a taste for more.   I am the youngest volunteer they’ve ever had.”

D has found a different venue for helping others. One can’t help noticing her lovely hair. That hair is now on several other heads in addition to hers. D is grateful for her beautiful hair and feels it’s proper to ‘give back’ by donating it to Ezer Mizion. “When I was five, I saw a picture of a girl who was bald. My mother explained to me that the girl is sick and that part of the treatment for her illness made her hair fall out. To me, that was awful, and I knew that I wanted to help. I said I would give her some of my hair. It’s funny. Usually little kids have ideas that don’t really make much sense. Little did I know that my idea about giving my hair was a real possibility and done by many people. My mother said that I was too small. She assumed I’d forget about it. But I couldn’t. Every time I thought of that girl being so embarrassed walking around with no hair, I wanted to help. Finally, when I got to second grade, my mother agreed.

Did you have any regrets?

“No. I knew that I had plenty of hair and that it would grow back. I actually waited for my hair to grow in enough so that I could donate it again. This year, my braid reached the right length, so I went to have it cut and donated it. I had a lot of hair this time. They might even be able to make two wigs from it.”

D.relates that the day of her haircut was a happy day for her, “because it meant that there would be a girl somewhere who would look in the mirror and forget about her sickness, at least for a few minutes. I try to convince my friends to donate to Ezer Mizion, too, even though each one of them loves her hair and finds it really hard to part with it.”

The stage was soon filled with youngsters who had discovered what many adults do not know. What do you think? Will Ezer Mizion have any problem filling its volunteer slots next generation?

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

For further info: www.ezermizion.org              5225 New Utrecht Ave Bk NY 11219             718 853 8400