Thank you for helping me celebrate my big 50!!!

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  • Anita (Sitt) Levy $401
    Thank you for everything !!
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Chai4ever is my life. Chai4ever represents the culmination of my 25 years’ investment of all my faculties and skills to provide relief to families who are dealing with serious parental illness on a daily basis. Chai4ever assists families with young children who have a parent suffering from cancer, Parkinsons, ALS, and other chronic and life-threatening diseases. We support families via meals, rides, respite, babysitting, tutoring, emotional support, housekeeping assistance, support groups, financial grants, year-round events, and just about anything the family needs to get through their trying time.

One program in particular means the world to me: Camp4ever. It is a travel camp with a girls’ and boys’ division for the children of those affected by illness or who have recently lost a parent. This will be the third year of the boys’ division and the second of the girls’ division. This camp is a lifeline for these children. The entire year they deal with the turbulence of illness. They carry burdens, fears, and responsibilities which children their age should never have to shoulder. In midst of the chaos of their lives, there is one beacon of light which they hold strong to- Camp4ever.

Camp is not simply a few weeks’ respite during the summer, it isn’t just a therapeutic summer program, and it isn’t just about the fun the campers have during their time together. Camp is family. Camp is support. Camp is their life. It’s hard to encapsulate the feeling, importance, and meaning of camp. It’s hard to take the emotions and put them into words… but I will try. There is nothing as gratifying as seeing children who are depressed, don’t smile, and are continuously negative, begin to brighten up during camp. There is nothing as rewarding as seeing these same children who never reached out for help, never had a good word to say about the world, start to connect with their counselor and bunkmates throughout the year and simply grin at the mention of camp. There is nothing as wonderful as knowing that a child is once again attending school because of the confidence he gained during camp. There is also nothing as rewarding as seeing parents’ bright smiles as they watch their children finally relax and enjoy themselves.

One incident which will always stay in my mind took place last year right before camp. A Chai4ever mother had tragically passed away after an extended battle with cancer. In the morning, we received a call from the bereaved husband saying that although they were on the way to the funeral, his 11-year-old daughter repeatedly asked if she could still attend camp. This was the child’s first concern following the biggest loss of her life. This is what kept this child going. She was going to camp. She did attend camp and was able to take the support system she built in camp and carry it with her throughout the difficult first year of mourning.

For young campers who have to cook for their families, send their siblings off to school, and take over other parental responsibilities, camp is more than just a much-needed respite. This is a camp where people understand them. This is a camp where worries are forgotten and campers can be young and carefree teens and children again. This is a camp which extends far beyond the summer and keeps them smiling, connected, above the tide, and able to ride the waves throughout the year. This is a camp where bunkmates and counselors become family.

Unfortunately, as we get closer to the start date of camp, we find ourselves looking at the saddest waiting list there is. We have 55 children who want- no, need- to join Camp4ever. To accommodate these children, we would need to add another bus at a cost of $3,600 per child. It is so difficult to have to choose which family and which child can benefit from camp more. How do we choose between a child who refuses to go to school because his father was just given a terminal sentence and a teenager who has been running her house for the past few months as her mother undergoes chemotherapy treatments? We know how vital this program is for these parents and children. It is so difficult and heart-wrenching to know that we have the ability to help these children and all that is holding us back is funding. My ultimate dream is to purchase a campus for these precious children; a place of their own to call home and utilize for camp and year-round. An ideal camp site that is for sale has been located. We need an additional $5,000,000 to make this a reality. So, with the clarion call of my 50th birthday ringing in my ear, I turn to you to please help us help these children. Please consider an extra one-time gift specifically for this program. Please partner with me to bring this ray of hope, support, and life into these families and children.

On this special personal milestone, I wish you good health and much success in all your endeavors. Thank you again for giving me the privilege of your dear friendship. May all our good deeds be a source of merit 4ever.






Sam Zaks