It’s what New York has been waiting for – the arrival of Project Refuah.
Families have been calling us, repeatedly requesting that we bring this hugely successful model of chesed and respite to American shores. This Rosh Hashanah, with tremendous Siyata Dishmaya, Project Refuah heeded that call, making the start of 5778 an auspicious one for the heroic parents of special needs children.
A large and comfortable location in the heart of Brooklyn’s pic turesque Sea Gate neighborhood was the venue for this historic three-day respite event. On Wednesday, Erev Yom Tov, the families arrived to meet the counselors who would care for their precious sons and daughters for the next three days. With detailed instructions having been sent ahead, our experienced counselors were well-prepared for each child’s individual needs and all possible scenarios that could occur. The Rosh Hashanah Respite staff included two nurses, and a meeting was held with Sea Gate’s Hatzalah earlier in the week so that they would be prepared for all eventualities.
The counselors helped the children get settled and then worked with them on a beautiful Rosh Hashana project. An early Yom Tov seudah, complete with the Rosh Hashanah seder, was held, as the youngsters of the group would not be able to stay awake for the later, adult seder and seudah.
What followed was three days of fun – with an outdoor bouncy castle on the premises the entire time, exclusive for the Project Refuah group. Outdoor and indoor toys caught the kids’ attentions constantly, as attentive counselors played one-on-one with their assigned child. A beautiful park nearby added to the excitement. Breakfast, two holiday meals each day, and snacks ensured that neither staff nor kids went hungry.
On Motzei Shabbos, the parents, who were refreshed and recharged, came to pick up their children, who were content, clean and ready for bed. As one father exclaimed, “Yom Tov was amazing! Without my special needs child at home, we were able to…go to shul, have the seudos, have a bit of peace and quiet…the menucha was unbelievable. It’s all thanks to you guys.”
What more needs to be said?
Now, with a successful inaugural event behind us, Project Refuah is hard at work planning two Chol Hamoed Sukkos all-day events, separate for boys and girls of all ages. Volunteers and children will come together for a day of fun and simcha, allowing parents the chance to take their other children out for the day. There’s much to be done and Project Refuah, with our dedicated volunteers, will be there for our families.