Listen to the words our cousin and friend, Hallie Hurwitz, said at her recent Bat Mitzvah celebration:
“I go to Jemicy School: Jemicy is not your ordinary school. Jemicy is a special school for kids that are dyslexic. When I was in pre-school I knew that I was different than all of the other kids in my class. Going to school was frustrating and hard for me. When I was 5, my parents got me tested for dyslexia – they thought that I was dyslexic and they were right. The following year I went to Jemicy and I am still there. Jemicy teachers did not just help me learn, they helped my family as well.
I feel very strongly about kids that are different than other kids and their torment. It drives me crazy when someone looks or is different than everyone else and someone makes fun of them for it. For an example when I was little there was this girl and it was before I went to Jemicy so I didn’t know how to read yet. This girl would point to things and say – Hallie read this, what does this say Hallie, or Hallie what is this word. She drove me mad that she would do that to me; she liked pointing out my flaws. It would break me down, make me feel powerless and I could barely stand it. I hope every day that kids with autism, dyslexia, or anything like that, that don’t have a place like Jemicy or there is really no cure to help them, will not be made fun of any more.”
Powerful words by 13-year-old Hallie, to be sure. What she says seems to us to be the very essence of what the Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation is all about. When she wrote that “she hoped that kids with autism, dyslexia or anything like that will not be made fun of any more,” it took our breath away. Simply put – helping children is what motivates this foundation and whether it is autism, cancer, hunger, poverty, or other illnesses and needs, our goal is to do our part to improve the quality of the lives of these children. The grants made this year focus on children who need help. We think we are making a difference and this achievement comes about because of you. We thank you very much for your generosity, your encouragement and your continued support of Lyn’s Foundation.
And so, with special thanks to Hallie for reminding us that the children we seek to help are real people with real needs, real wants and real feelings;
The grants for the 2011 year are:
1. JCC Bogrim and Camp Milldale Inclusion Programs
These two programs place children, ages 5 – 15, with mild to severe developmental and physical disabilities into appropriate bunks and/or camp experiences with the help of counselors. Serving children with a variety of learning, developmental, social, emotional, and physical disabilities, these summer programs allow the children to swim and play games and learn at their own abilities. They can pursue their own interests under the watchful eyes and help of inclusion counselors. It is truly a blessing for the children.
2. Backus Children’s Hospital (Memorial Hospital)
We are continuing our commitment to the children’s cancer unit at Backus Children’s Hospital and the very successful program they have developed that provids the children and their families with fun excursions, play days, bowling parties and other social gatherings. Additionally, this grant will allow the hospital to continue its “Beads of Courage” program that honors the challenging journey that each and every child receiving treatment must face and go through. The smiles that these programs bring cannot be measured and are a fantastic way to lift the children’s spirits.
3. Backpack Buddies
Many children come to school hungry and it has become the practice in many local schools to make sure that breakfasts and lunches are provided for them there. The question remains what do these children eat during the weekends? The national organization Backpack Buddies was founded to bring an answer to that question. Their answer was – buy backpacks, fill them with food each and every Friday and send those filled backpacks home with the needy children. This program, at The AA Synagogue in Savannah, is totally volunteer run with 100 percent of the money donated going to feed the children.
4. Orr Shalom
Orr Shalom is a home in Ashkelon, Israel that serves children ages 6-18 who have been removed from their biological families following severe physical, sexual and emotional abuse and/or neglect. Along with providing trauma therapy, psychological assessments and educational support, these children are provided opportunities to engage in after-school activities and summer enrichment programs.
5. Chatham County Foster Parents Association
Once again, a grant was made to the Clothes Pantry in order to help provide school supplies for the new school year for the over 300 children in foster care in the Savannah, Georgia area. Among those new items provided are a book bag, uniforms, school supplies such as notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, glue, colored pens, note cards and calculators for the older children.
6. JDC Partnership for Children
Partnering with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the JDC has been helping impoverished children in the Former Soviet Union since 2002. Particularly hard hit are the children in the Ukraine. This partnership helps to provide food, medical care, medication, clothing and heating fuel as well as school supplies and transportation subsidies to children in need.
7. Prevention Education Peer Videos
The Foundation is providing funding for a unique program that allows teens to create peer-to-peer videos that focus on health and safety issues for high school students such as body image, stress, substance use, healthy relationships and more. These videos, made and produced under the direction and help of professional instructors, will be shown via the students own social networks to other teens. While new, we anticipate that this program will engage teenagers and allow for both creative innovation on the part of those making the videos and a free exchange of thought by those watching and learning about these real issues that impact teens.
8. Local Outreach Volunteer Educators (L.O.V.E.)
L.O.V.E is an organization made up of volunteers from the Landings Community in Savannah that helps disadvantaged students on a one-to-one basis in the areas of math and reading at area elementary schools. It was found that many of these students spent time alone in their homes during the summer with nothing to do and little if any physical activity or execise and thus, the idea of sending the students to a summer camp was developed. With the help of our grant last year they were able to send 34 students to camp. The children had a wonderful camp experience and our grant this year will allow them to continue this program next summer.
9. JCC Kids Center Inclusion
While the JCC in Baltimore has an after-school program of childcare for children in elementary school that provides both transportation from their schools and recreational and homework assistance, there has been no such program for children with special needs. A pilot program has been developed to address this need. An inclusion program for children with developmental and/or physical disabilities, this program will allow the special needs children to be integrated, with the help of an inclusion counselor, into his or her appropriate age group.
10. Park Place Outreach
Park Place Outreach Youth Emergency Shelter is a residential facility serving runaway, homeless, abandoned and neglected youth in the Savannah area, that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. One of the largest expenses in running this home for the children is the rising cost of food. Along with this additional food costs the number of children seeking help has also seen a dramatic rise this past year. Our grant was designated to help in the buying of nutritional food for these children.
11. JCC KLAL (Keep Living And Learning)
A program for older teens and young adults with disabilities, KLAL provides 16-24 year old “campers” with age-appropriate camp activities such as swimming, art, nature, music and games. Along with recreation, Camp KLAL provides structured opportunities for participants to develop and practice essential social and life skills. Our grant will allow this program to continue for the rest of the year with programming two Sundays a month from 12-4 pm.
12. Anna’a House
A grant has been made to Anna’s House, a home for homeless women and their children located in Bel Air, Maryland. This grant will be utilized to help counsel and educate the women and children to be better able to deal with their situation and the issues of homelessness, anger and self- esteem.
13. Sinai Hospital
We have written many things over the years telling you about the children’s cancer unit at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and the children impacted by the grant from the Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation. This year, Mary Bohlen, the social worker who works with the parents of these sick children asked us to share with you the breakdown of last year’s grant to show the crucial needs that are being met with our help. Last year they gave out $14.028.40 in gas cards, $3,585.95 for cabs and $2305.00 for wigs for a total of $19,919.35. As we have pointed out in the past, these children and their families have to deal with multiple issues and enabling the children to take a cab or have their parents drive them to chemotherapy sessions or doctors’ appointments instead of having to use public transportation is a no-brainer. For these families our help can mean the difference between total despair and being able to cope.
It has been said that what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us: what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
May the coming year 2012 and 5772 be a healthy one for us all.
Alan and Carollee Getz
Randy and Stacey Getz