When I was in High School, I remember a Chai Lifeline staff member come speak to our class about becoming volunteers. After a video presentation which left not a dry eye in the room, and a sign-up sheet with a long list of names, we were hooked on the organizations missions and messages.
Never could I have imagined that almost five years later, I would find myself lucky enough to be a staff member at a place that has brought the importance of resilience, kindness, growth and care into the forefront of my life.
A recent visit to Toronto’s new Museum of Illusion reminded me of Chai Lifeline’s gala performance, Masters of Illusion, and the important connection to our work each day at Chai Lifeline.
Illusion refers to common cognitive assumptions made by our very human brain- about how things ought to be – rather than how they could be by dropping our assumptions and considering different perspectives.
Through my experience working with the incredible case management team, my weekly visits to the hospital and conversations with families have shown me that treatment is about contacting and connecting – with children, siblings, caregivers, and community – in times of need.
By checking biases about illness, by looking beyond diagnosis labels, I learned to see the whole child, the whole parent. Chai Lifeline has taught me that treatment is more than meds and machines as I discovered that care is part of the cure.
And so, I came to realize that the Chai Lifeline team members are also masters of illusion. Such a small team yet no challenge is too tough, no need is too overwhelming. The only question ever raised is ‘how can we do even more.’
Over the past five years I rode roller-coasters at Disney, waved wands at Universal, painted chairs with moms, painted nails with a little sister, experienced Camp Simcha’s magic, played games with young patients, and answered calls for food, fun and friendship for families in a health crisis.
After countless hours spent at the hospital, I have seen how the Chai Lifeline team helps healing by valuing each person, by respecting each perspective, and by affirming each purpose.
Thank you to team who have led me with love and instilled in me insight and empathy. Thank you for carrying the lives of so many on your shoulders.
It’s no illusion that Chai Lifeline’s volunteers, donors, and staff comforts families affected by illness and contributes to communal well being.