ChaiSpotlight: Rafi Yablonsky

Rafi Yablonsky here and I’m the Toronto Director of Chai Lifeline Canada. My Chai Lifeline Canada adventure began only 2 months ago, but in this short time I have seen the countless smiles we have put on the face of our Chai Warriors. The one smile that will forever be engrained in my mind and soul is SB’s. It was my second week at Chai Lifeline Canada and Dina, one of our amazing case managers, brought me downtown to join her as she went to visit her clients at SickKids and Princess Margret Hospital. We entered a room at PMH and there, under the covers was a girl who looked extremely tired and worn out. As soon as Dina walked in the room SB’s face lit up!  She sat up, removed the covers, and had the brightest smile on her face. That’s when it hit me, I couldn’t be prouder to be on this team, a team that put smiles on our Warriors.

Speaking with SB, I found out that we both have a lot in common, specifically the love of photography. Once I told her the camera that I have and she got excited and asked me so many questions about it. At Chai Lifeline Canada, each child in our care receives a WOW gift to help them through their journey to a full and speedy recovery. I made it my weekend mission to find a donor to buy SB her very own DSLR camera. It didn’t take long and that weekend I bought her the same camera I have.

I chose to present SB with her gift at the half-way mark of her chemo treatment to mark the milestone. SB was immediately taken aback that we got her a gift. The smile that she had when she unwrapped the camera is unexplainable. I spent the afternoon giving her a one-on-one lesson on using the camera and I captured that big smile that I witnessed my first week at Chai Lifeline.

SB was so excited to use the camera, she insisted on walking outside to the nearest park to express herself creatively. Additionally, her doctor was ecstatic as the best thing to do after a chemo treatment is to be active, which is extremely hard given how tired the body is fighting Cancer. I will always remember this day and her big and warm smile.

If you have any ideas on getting our Chai Warriors to express themselves creatively, please contact me at ryablonsky@chailifeline.org.

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