What does summer mean to you? Swimming, camp, or maybe a vacation?
But for THOUSANDS of seniors in NY and NJ nursing homes, summer means Bnos Bikur Cholim’s (BBC) annual camp visit.
Each summer, particularly during the Nine Days, BBC connects ruach-filled campers with nursing home residents. The girls interact with the seniors by distributing hand-made cards and doing activities such as choirs, skits, and games.
Mrs. Chana Baila Hass, National Director of Bnos Agudath Israel, coordinates the camp visits. But what would happen this year? There was NO WAY the campers could go into nursing homes.
Yet Mrs. Hass knew how much the residents AND the campers enjoy the visits. Months before the summer begins, camps and nursing homes would check in with her to make sure they were on the schedule. And this year, many seniors are struggling emotionally with the effects of isolation and quarantine.
No, canceling the program wasn’t an option. The BBC camp visits would have to go virtual!
And so, they did. During the Nine Days, Mrs. Hass organized over 80 BBC virtual visits to seniors in residences or living at home! Campers presented skits and songs over Zoom or in recorded videos. Seniors connected in their rooms or spread out in auditoriums.
It wasn’t simple. Sometimes, BBC worked with other organizations to get devices for seniors. Other times, BBC set up a Zoom account for the camp.
But the end result—uplifted seniors and inspired campers—was worth it.
And BBC wasn’t the only Bnos virtual Nine Days program! Bnos also set up a Nine Days Hotline for elementary school girls.
Over 1000 girls called in! They learned about middos like dan l’kaf zechus (judging favorably) and heard a new story each day.
Challenges like the Bnos CCC (Chesed Creativity Contest) encouraged the girls to act on what they learned. For example, it’s a chesed to call your Bubby. But it’s a creative chesed to interview your Bubby on the phone about life when she was a girl.
And for high school girls, there was a Tisha b’Av virtual program. Bnos was responding to the many girls who usually spend Tisha b’Av in camp, but were at home this year, trying to get into the proper spirit.
The program clearly struck a chord because over 2000 girls participated on Tisha b’Av! They heard an inspiring story and divrei chizuk about yearning for the geulah, followed by a phone kumsitz. “Uplifting” was how one girl described it.
Once again, Bnos came through with creativity and flexibility, providing programming for all ages during the Nine Days.
To participate in a Bnos program, contact Mrs. Hass at the Bnos office. Email Bnos@agudah.org or call 212-797-9000 ext. 330 to get started.