Teaneck—On October 10, Project Yechi will be hosting a community-wide barbecue to raise awareness for the work the organization does to provide financial support for families who are undergoing cancer treatments. Project Yechi was founded by Chaim Feigenbaum and is continued by the Feigenbaum family in his memory. Chaim passed away from leukemia in 2012, at the age of 27.
Chaim was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2010 and it quickly became evident that the rigorous treatments and prolonged hospital stays would mean he would no longer be able to work. Chaim, however, was fortunate to have been working in a family business and he was able to keep his job and continue to receive his paychecks. On top of everything he was going through, he didn’t have to worry about how his mortgage would be paid. Chaim spent months in and out of the hospital, undergoing chemotherapy and an assortment of other treatments, culminating with a bone marrow transplant in May 2011. The transplant appeared to be successful and as Chaim began to regain his strength, he looked forward to going back to work. But then, in February 2012, Chaim relapsed and he passed away from his illness a few short months later.
Remarkably, through all his pain and struggles, Chaim retained the ability to count his blessings. Among them was the fact that he was able to keep his job even though he could not work. He was sensitive to the fact that other cancer patients were not as lucky, and he wanted to create something to help those who were not as fortunate as he. He came up with the name Project Yechi, from the Hebrew letters, yud, chet, yud, his initials, after the name Yosef was added to his name, Chaim Yissachar. Chaim loved that his new initials spelled yechi, which means “will live,” and he was eager to start work on his new project. With the help of his family, Project Yechi began to take shape, but unfortunately, Chaim did not live to see his dream realized. In the past three years, Project Yechi had grown from an idea in Chaim’s mind to a fully operational, national organization that has helped people in our own towns, as well as across the country. Major organizations dealing with cancer patients, such as Chai Lifeline, Chai4Ever, RCCS, and Sharsheret, funnel applicants to Project Yechi. Project Yechi includes numerous dedicated volunteers, many of whom are Chaim’s family and friends. Project Yechi is a 501c3 tax-exempt corporation that operates on zero overhead, with all proceeds going directly to the mortgage and rental companies. To date, this year it has helped over 50 families by paying over 110 rent or mortgage payments.
The impact is both profoundly deep and far reaching. One recipient wrote, “I am in awe and at a loss for words for the chesed that your organization shows and does in a moment’s notice.” Another wrote, “We are so grateful for all the help. It has quite literally saved us from what would have been a financial nightmare through this whole ordeal.”
In 2013, Chaim’s family came up with the idea of opening a tablecloth gemach for people looking for specialty linens to enhance their events and smachot. Whoever borrows cloths is asked to give a donation to benefit the patients of Project Yechi. Gemach volunteer Hedy Richman explained, “Everything Chaim did in his life he did with simcha. What better way to carry on his legacy than to help bring people added simcha? And at the same time, we raise money for Project Yechi.”
Chaim also believed that everything that happened in one’s life, even his illness, was part of God’s divine plan. He wanted to spread the message of emunah—the idea that everything is from Hashem and is ultimately for the best. He had thousands of “emunah” car magnets printed as a way to share that message, in the hope that it would translate to a way of life. It gave him immense joy to see those magnets on cars everywhere he went. Project Yechi continues to carry on that message and to distribute the emunah magnets across the country and the world.
On Saturday night, October 10, at 9:00 pm, the entire community is invited to a barbecue event at Congregation Keter Torah to learn more about Project Yechi’s vital work. More information, including details about the Project Yechi tablecloth gemach, the emunah magnet campaign, fundraising initiatives, donation opportunities and the upcoming event, is available at www.projectyechi.com.