Summertime is fun time. All children eagerly await the season when they are free from the responsibilities of school and can recharge their batteries with the fun and activities of camp.
Unfortunately, though, there are those for whom summer is not met with excitement. Seniors residing in various eldercare residences know that the vacation season spells significantly fewer visitors, as many people leave town. For these citizens, such a respite is, of course, impossible.
To remedy this state of affairs, Agudath Israel of America stepped in. Throughout the year, Bnos Agudas Yisroel’s Bikur Cholim program promotes inter-generational connection between seniors and children and helps alleviate the isolation experienced by the elderly. The program connects high school girls with seniors in its Adopt-a-Bubby program and facilitates the distribution of hundreds of mishloach manos packages each Purim. In the summer, particularly during the Nine Day, Bnos’ Bikur Cholim program pairs various girls’ day camps with nursing homes in their area. The girls interact with the residents by distributing hand-made cards and doing activities such as choirs, skits, and games, bringing laughter, smiles, and the joy and excitement of camp to the seniors.
Bnos, under the direction of Mrs. Chana Baila Hass, National Director of Bnos Agudath Israel, coordinates the myriad logistical details of this operation. The visits must be arranged around the needs and schedules of both the camps and the senior residences, no small feat. Mrs. Hass ensures that even residences in out of the way locations enjoy the camp visits. This year more than 7 day camps took part in the program, with over 200 children visiting approximately 2300 residents in more than 14 nursing homes in the tri-state area.
All the work is worth it, explains Mrs. Hass, due to the incredibly positive feedback she receives from both sides. The elderly eagerly await the program, as nothing can compare to the fresh, young faces and enthusiasm that the campers bring. The senior residences even call her in between camp visits to ask when the next visit will be. The camps love to participate, as well. Months before the summer begins, the camps will check in with her to ensure that they are on this year’s schedule for Bnos Bikur Cholim. This is no surprise, she explains, since “it’s a two-way street. The volunteers realize that by giving they are gaining.”
To participate in the program, whether as a camp or as a nursing home in the tri-state area, contact Mrs. Hass at the Bnos office. She can be reached by phone at 212-797-9000 ex. 330 or by email at CBHass@agudathisrael.org.