z82nd Annual Appreciation BBQ

On Sunday last week, the special-projects department of Ohel Bais Ezra held its second annual staff-appreciation barbecue. Many of the programs that Ohel Bais Ezra’s special-projects department runs rely on staff and volunteers to help make the programs as successful as they are. Over the course of the year, many staff members have volunteered their time and energy to spend with the children of Ohel Bais Ezra and participate in the numerous events that the special-projects department organizes.

The staff members, ages 16 and up, come from all over the New York and New Jersey areas. This barbecue was a way for Ohel to thank them for all of their hard work. “To have a student in high school give up their free time to spend it with a child with special needs really says a lot about an individual,” said Kuti Roberg, senior manager of special projects. “This barbecue allows us to show our appreciation to the staff for all that they do.” The barbecue, hosted by Miri and Kuti Roberg of Cedarhurst, was co-sponsored by Gourmet Glatt of Cedarhurst.

Now that the school year has ended, the special-projects department is gearing up for its one-week end-of-summer program, which takes place at the end of August. The one-week program takes 50 boys and 70 girls, ages 5—21 and with various levels of disabilities, to upstate New York on two different campuses; the boys will be in Ohel’s Camp Kaylie and the girls will be in Camp Nageela.

The end-of-summer program requires over 200 staff members to make it an unforgettable experience for the children. For more information about Ohel Bais Ezra’s special-projects department and the upcoming-end of-summer program, or to find out how to become a volunteer or staff member, please call 718-686-3475 or e-mail camps@ohelfamily.org.

Making It Easier

To Access Services

Last week, an informational evening was hosted by a focus group of devoted parents and professionals to discuss the needs of, and services available to, families of children with developmental disabilities or delays. The informational session took place on Long Island, and the discussions were centered on the resources that Ohel and others can provide, such as support groups, respite programs, housing and day programs, and other resources available to parents.

There were families who were new to Ohel Bais Ezra services and learning to navigate the maze of services, as well as families with older children looking for transitioning of services, such as aging out of the school system and seeking employment and housing.

Speakers included David Mandel, CEO of Ohel and Marc Katz, director of access at Ohel Bais Ezra. Batsheva Borenstein from the Friendship Circle and Amy Eisenberg from Kulanu both spoke as well. After the speakers presented, there was an open discussion for families to further inquire about guidance and direction to secure such vital services.

“It was an amazing night of community education and outreach,” said Marc Katz. “These services are lifelines to those in need, which further strengthen and maintain the family unit.”

For more information about Ohel Bais Ezra and their many services you can benefit from, please contact Ohel Access today: always on call, 800-603-Ohel, live help online, www.ohelfamily.org, or confidential response, access@ohelfamily.org. v

Sibshops: Another Terrific Year Comes To A Close

Ohel Bais Ezra’s Sibshops program is known to be exciting, but its end-of-year events took fun to a whole new level!

Amongst the end of year celebrations, girls ages 6—11 were treated to a pizza party and pottery painting at Pottery and Glass Land in Brooklyn and Owl Art in Cedarhurst. Each girl infused her pottery piece with her unique style and personality, while bonding with other siblings of individuals with special needs. It was a beautiful culmination of a very memorable year of Sibshops. One mom reported that her daughter “had an incredible time and felt so special,” which is a sentiment shared by all the participants of Ohel’s Sibshops.

Another end-of-year celebration included boys from Far Rockaway and Brooklyn coming together for a fun-filled and delicious backyard barbecue. Activities included soda-bottle bowling, a building competition using marshmallows and spaghetti, and balloon-popping using sunlight through a magnifying glass. The Sibshops members, along with the facilitators, all had a blast.

The teen girls from Sibshops enjoyed their own outdoor celebration, with an afternoon of paddle-boating on a beautiful saltwater marsh, followed by a picnic in the park. There was a special air of camaraderie and a sense of belonging as the four paddleboats filled with Sibshops teens linked and paddled together. Although the teens all attended different schools and came from various communities, Ohel’s Sibshops has helped them form a unique and profound bond.

Sibshops is fortunate to have extremely dedicated, warm, and caring volunteer facilitators, and so the final event of the season was a facilitator appreciation dinner. A night was dedicated in their honor, to express appreciation for their enthusiastic devotion to the siblings. The theme of the evening was “Whatever the weather, Sibshops facilitators shine.” Umbrellas emblazoned with the Ohel logo were given to each facilitator, and the room was decorated with umbrellas of varied sizes and colors. A delectable dinner was served, Sibshops activity ideas were exchanged, and words of thanks were spoken by Chayale Greenwald, Ohel’s Sibshops coordinator. There was also a riveting game of “Minute to Win It,” where the staff bonded by competing in wacky and silly challenges.

The next season of Sibshops will begin in the fall, with groups presently forming in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, and Staten Island. For more information about Sibshops, or to register a child or volunteer to become a facilitator, please contact Chayale Greenwald at sibshops@ohelfamily.org or 718-686-3491. v

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