Between new school stationary, notebook and clothing purchases, coupled with on-going preparation for the Chaggim, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Throw in kids coming off a summer high and the stress mounts for everyone.
OHEL Bais Ezra's End-of-Summer Programs for Children with Developmental Disabilities provide the welcome solution to fill the problematic gap between the end of traditional summer activities, and the start of school.
With programs for boys and girls at the beautiful Camp Kaylie campgrounds as well as Camp Nageela, OHEL provides children with an incredible week of fun, and affords parents much necessitated respite. Each summer, as August ends, hundreds of children go back to camp for swimming, dancing, sports and activities. The children all relished extremely busy days of fun-filled activities from sports, puzzles, to baking - thanks not least to an incredibly dedicated staff of counselors. As Hillary Zimmern, an OHEL Bais Ezra Coordinator conveyed, "Our counselors help ensure every minute is a perfect camp experience!"
A parent of one camper shared that, "There just aren't enough words to describe how much our daughter loves the End-of-Summer Program, or how important it is to our family. The care our daughter receives here is incalculable, with one to one staffing and super human efforts by the counselors to make every day great!"
Reflecting the breadth of OHEL programs and services, and diversity of individuals we serve, OHEL also provided an awesome End-of-Summer vacation for adults with psychiatric disabilities.
For over 20 years, OHEL has organized this annual retreat for OHEL residents in the Rieder Mental Health Services Center, which for many is the highlight of the summer.
Every year, more than 120 adults join together with over 20 dedicated staff and volunteers to have one last hurrah before summer is out. From painting, bingo, boating, and yoga, to sushi and challah making, tie dyeing, and sports trivia, individuals are able to find the perfect activity to maximize their fun all day long.
This year, OHEL returned to the Block and Hexter Retreat Center, a welcome return to nature for many of our individuals, many of whom fondly remembered previous trips. In addition to the nature hikes, martial arts and makeovers, OHEL also includes unique activities that help enrich the program and the lives of the participants.
The Socialization Program coordinated by OHEL's Sarah Kahan, a licensed social worker, is eagerly anticipated by the individuals every year and is part of the Pinsky Simcha Program that fosters socialization and growth for individuals with disabilities. More than 30 people attended the sessions to learn about communication, expression, and social interactions with their peers, families, even spouses. This one of a kind activity is indicative of all of OHEL's programs; it is a chance for people to grow and thrive, and actively manage and enhance their own lives and independence.
Elaine Schickman, a dedicated OHEL board member joined the retreat with her husband Bernie and several of her children and grandchildren. The Schickman family enjoyed playing cards, fishing, and ping pong with the OHEL individuals. Says Bernie, "It's not a job, but a labor of love we look forward to every year."
This amazing week would not be possible without the generous support of so many people, particularly Mrs. Rose Pollak and Mr. and Mrs. Bert Gross. Theirs is a superhuman fundraising effort to help ensure so many individuals truly enjoy a magnificent End-of-Summer experience.
And they are not alone, where together with OHEL and other parents, friends, and many of the individuals themselves - all help and give so much to help ensure all have a life changing summer experience.
OHEL's End-of-Summer Programs culminate a summer of many diverse OHEL camps and activities throughout the summer season which provide fun, inspiration, and personal growth and like for us all, a time of warmth and sun that enables us to recharge our batteries for the year, and admittedly, the winter months ahead.