Pico-Robertson resident Leah Hill was grateful when Chai Lifeline services became available in Los Angeles. Her daughter Tali, now 18, suffers a variety of health problems including seizures, mild cerebral palsy and hearing loss.
Hill said that whenever her daughter is hospitalized, someone from Chai Lifeline visits the hospital each day, bearing kosher meals for the whole family. Even when Tali is back home, a Chai Lifeline teen volunteer visits her each week.
Tali has also attended Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha Special in Glen Spey, N.Y., where children with intensive medical needs can enjoy a summer camp experience. (Camp Simcha provides a similar experience for children with cancer.) Tali’s two sisters have participated in a retreat for siblings.
Hill shared her thoughts while at the Exhale Spa in Santa Monica, where she was one of about 40 women taking a rare break from responsibilities to participate in Chai Lifeline’s Seasons of Respite program. The quarterly series provides one-day retreats for mothers with ill children.
“These women have so many demands,” said Randi Grossman, the West Coast center’s director. “Seasons of Respite programs allow them to get some stress relief and meet with other women who are facing similar challenges.”
Marilyn Sohacheski, whose family endowed Chai Lifeline’s West Coast office and the Seasons of Respite program, watched with satisfaction as women chatted animatedly over lunch. “Support is so important. Friends mean well but can’t provide the same kind of support [as a peer],” she said.
Yorba Linda resident Stella Eliezre said she wouldn’t miss the spa day. “It’s nice that someone worries about our emotional and physical well-being,” she said.
In 2005, Eliezre’s son was diagnosed, at the age of 19, with acute myeloid leukemia. When he was hospitalized for an extended period of time, Eliezre called Chai Lifeline for advice on how to enhance his hospital stay.