Celebrating 18 Years and18 Milestones of Chai Lifeline Canada

By Adina Saban

Continuing on the theme of celebrating 18 years of Chai Lifeline Canada, we want to take a walk down memory lane and highlight major and milestone moments from 2006 until today.


Chai Lifeline Canada officially opened its doors. We held our first volunteer recruitment event and hired the first case manager for the organization.


We took on our first client at SickKids (you can read more about this client here).


We held our first Sing for the Children concert in Toronto, which was unlike anything the Toronto community had seen before. The event was heavily promoted, with billboards lining Bathurst Street, and it was held at a packed Roy Thomson Hall where nearly 100 singers and musicians performed. It was a night to remember!


We launched the Shining Stars program, which is still running today! This is an after-school program for school-age children with a sibling or parent who is ill, and offers them a fun afternoon of friendship and skill building.


Penina’s Helping Hand was initiated in memory of Penina Rubinoff. A very important program in our roster, it also features an annual trip to Walt Disney World, a highlight for all those who attend!


Chai Lifeline Canada expanded to Montreal and opened its first office there! Only six years in and we were already in two cities.


Aaron’s Apple started. This program helps families cope with the overwhelming costs of medical needs such as medication and treatment. It’s such a gift that we can help families where they need it the most.


Respite trips began, an opportunity for families to take the time they need to bond, to breathe, and to create lasting memories.


This was Camp Lifeline’s first summer. Nine years later, it is still going strong and has even expanded into other programs (more on that can be found in 2020).


Chai Lifeline Canada’s Toronto office moved into a new building on Wilson Avenue. Here is where you can find our incredible, well-stocked toy room, famous graffiti wall, and our epic wall of Chai Lifeline T-shirts!


Our 18,000th hospital visit occurred this year. A number that we are in complete awe of because it shows just how hard our staff work and how dedicated they are to Chai.


We held our first Jump for Chai event and, six years later, we’re still jumping and having loads of fun! We also added Equine Therapy to our program roster, helping children recover from lingering effects of treatment while simultaneously infusing them with confidence and strength.


Our hair donation program launched and is arguably one of our most successful programs. It allows people to give back no matter their background or place in life, and offers them the chance to see the results of their donation by the wigs that are made. We’ve even had a donation or two take place at our Toronto office, with help from our staff!


While the world may have shut down due to the pandemic, we did not and decided to turn the situation it into an opportunity to be innovative. Camp Lifeline became Camp Lifeline Away and Camp Lifeline at Home; we held our first Bike4Chai Canada since we couldn’t travel to the States; we had a virtual fundraiser with Wolfgang Puck; and so many more incredible ways we pivoted to be able to be there for our clients!


Our CIT, Crisis Intervention Program, began. Created as a direct response to the requests for Chai Lifeline services at times of crisis, our volunteer-driven team is there for Toronto’s Jewish community. They are trained to offer emotional and practical support in the immediate aftermath of a sudden crisis, tragedy, or traumatic event.


With the help of our incredible videographer, we started to film Legacy Videos. These powerful videos give ill parents, ones who are expecting the worst possible outcome, a chance to capture and eternalize their blessings, wishes, dreams, and hopes for their children. The videos are then delivered to their children at milestone moments so whole families can celebrate together, even if one parent is no longer with us.


Tiny Treasures, a new program through Camp Lifeline, is offered for babies, tots, and their caregivers for the first time. The program focuses on campers developing skills through creative art projects, music, story time, and dance. It also allows the caregivers to create and foster a community with people going through similar challenges, while giving them a short respite.


What will be coming next…? Stay tuned!

Being able to look back and reflect on our history and achievements brings us so much joy and pride. 18 years have flown by and we can’t wait to watch the future of Chai Lifeline Canada unfold. We hope you will join us on the journey!