By Rebecca Kellner, SKA 11th-Grader

Hurricane Sandy changed the lives of five young men who lived in the Arlington Road Ohel Bais Ezra residence. This beloved home was destroyed by the ravaging waves of Sandy and the sewage and debris that poured into the house. All of the residents’ personal belongings–their toys, games, books, computers, and customized communication devices–were all damaged and destroyed. Nothing was salvageable. To help restock the playroom and the boys’ bedrooms, the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls NCSY JUMP Team bought the boys their favorite toys and books, and gave their Ohel home a gift card to Amazon to buy other toys, computer games, and books that they wanted.

Faced with the massive destruction and challenges, Ohel Bais Ezra kept all of the residents safe during the storm and continues to care for them while they are living temporarily in Brooklyn. Displacement and damage have been hard on everyone in our community–but, for individuals with disabilities, the challenges are that much greater. SKA JUMP decided to help out.

The first mission was to help redecorate. Over 40 SKA students got together one evening and painted a mural that will hang in the boys’ playroom. The mural is a brightly colored hot-air-balloon scene, which will serve as a wonderful visual stimulus for the home. SKA JUMP hosted Paint-4-Ohel, a night filled with paint, food, and fun! The SKA volunteers had such a great time and really felt that they made a difference.

The next event included the residents’ participation. On February 10, the SKA JUMP Team sponsored an incredible day for the Arlington Ohel Bais Ezra boys at Fun Station USA. They started off the day with a delicious lunch of David’s Famous Pizza. They then did an arts-and-crafts project and decorated airplanes and door signs for each boy’s new room. The boys were presented with a myriad of hand-picked gifts to replace some of the toys that were lost during the storm. These presents included everything from a Wii to basketballs and drums. All of the boys loved their gifts and didn’t want to put them down. Next, the real fun began. The boys took advantage of everything Fun Station had to offer; siblings and parents of some of the boys were also able to join us in the activities. This event was an opportunity for the boys to be back in their neighborhood with their friends and family. Everyone had a blast!

At the end of the day, the boys were presented with the final surprise–a trip to Hershey! The smiles on each of the boy’s faces were indescribable.

Yossi, a former counselor and frequent volunteer who was at the event, commented, “People always try to make a difference and today you guys actually did!” v


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