July 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I-Shine Westchester/Riverdale Hosts Pre-Chanukah Event

With COVID restrictions preventing the i-Shine Westchester/Riverdale group from gathering in person, the group’s organizers decided to investigate the possibilities of planning weekly i-Shine sessions on Zoom. However, the team wanted to provide the i-Shine kids with the opportunity of meeting their mentors—high school and in some cases college students—in person, while respecting social distancing mandates.

Westchester/Riverdale’s Chanukah miracle happened! On Sunday, December 6, i-Shine Westchester/Riverdale held a pre-Chanukah get-together, with a noted caricaturist, and lots of Chanukah gifts, doughnuts and chocolates, all wrapped and ready to be taken home, displayed on separate tables. With tremendous thanks to Young Israel of New Rochelle for allowing the group to use its facilities, the i-Shine families were invited to enter the shul, at 15-minute intervals, where the kids and parents gathered to meet their high school and college buddies. Masks were worn by everyone. Families waited in their cars, while volunteers permitted only one family at a time to enter the building.

Philip Herman, a caricaturist, was ready to take a picture of each family member and his/her volunteer. With Herman drawing quickly from the picture, guests were able to watch the caricatures being completed on his large monitor. Finished caricatures were placed inside a plastic sleeve and gifted to each attendee. A few minutes were set aside for the i-Shine kids to chat, socially distanced, with their student volunteers. As the family moved around the room, gifts and goodies were handed out by volunteers. For those student volunteers who were unable to attend the event in person, a Zoom session was organized in the shul’s downstairs social hall, where two large screens on the shul’s new AV system displayed the student volunteer waiting to chat with his/her buddy, who was sitting comfortably and waiting at a microphone.

Organized under the auspices of Chai Lifeline, i-Shine provides after school fun and support for students in elementary and junior high school who are dealing with serious medical issues in the family or loss of a parent or sibling. With student volunteers serving as mentors and companions, i-Shine kids look forward to an afternoon of homework help, fun activities and delicious snacks and dinner. In fact, the relationship that develops between the student volunteer and his/her i-Shine “buddy” is one of the most significant and important parts of the program.

For now, i-Shine Westchester/Riverdale will continue its programming on Zoom sessions every Wednesday in the early evening, with scheduled activities planned for each session and dinners distributed to each family by i-Shine volunteers drivers. When needed, supplies will also be delivered to each home. i-Shine Westchester/Riverdale is eagerly looking forward to resuming its in-person sessions at Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, which has been its welcoming home for the last few years.

To learn more about i-Shine Westchester/Riverdale, please contact Andy Lauber at 212-699-6668 or [email protected].

By Yvette Finkelstein

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