Why simchahs are going to cost less
CAMP SIMCHA is extending its support to seriously ill young people through a partnership with Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.
The link-up was announced by Neville Goldschneider, the Camp Simcha chief executive, at the charity’s dinner in central London on Monday, which raised a record £2 million.
Addressing the 1,100 guests at Grosvenor House, Mr Goldschneider expressed delight at the partnership with Noah’s Ark, which is building a new hospice in Barnet.
“Along with day services, there’ll be several bedrooms for children and families,” he said. A room donated by the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation will be made available to families of all Jewish backgrounds referred by Camp Simcha.
“While thankfully many of the children we support are living longer — and for some there is a good chance of a cure — sadly there are other families we help who have to face up to the fact that their child has a terminal illness,” Mr Goldschneider added.
“We are particularly proud of the way this partnership combines our resources in an efficient and effective way to answer a real need in our community.”
The appeal film demonstrated the scope of the charity’s work with children and their families.
Among those featured were Oliver and Charlie Van Emden, who sought help from Camp Simcha when son Samuel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2014, when he was aged four.
“I asked the psychologists: ‘How do I tell him?’ Mrs Van Emden said. “They gave me a book and I explained [to him] ‘we have to take the bad blood away but your hair might fall out’.
“He said to me: ‘But mummy if I lose my hair I won’t be Samuel anymore.’”
Mr Van Emden — whose son is still undergoing treatment — confided: “What goes through your mind in those first four weeks is very, very, dark.”
The film also included Rina and Hershy Stimler and their son Pini, who was diagnosed with leukaemia 15 years ago but is now recovered.
“One of the scariest moments for us was when he caught a very rare strain of pneumonia and was put to sleep in a virtual coma,” Mr Stimler recalled. “It was the first time I felt I had no control,” his wife added.
Pini’s sister Ariella explained how the charity had helped her through its “big sister” befriending programme. “When my brother was first diagnosed I was only three years old,” she said.
“I don’t remember much about his illness but I do remember every detail of the retreats [run by the charity]. To this day I have a teddy named after one of my Camp Simcha big sisters.
“They went above and beyond to guide us through a scary time in our childhood.”
Paul and Louise Katin were helped by therapy sessions after their daughter Ellie, now six, suffered brain damage through an unknown condition.
Ellie was three when the Katins noticed a deterioration in her speech and walking.
“We didn’t know what to do,” Mr Katin said. “We were hurled into this new world and we didn’t know what to expect. Louise spent every day for a year just crying every night for the girl that we’d lost. We were in a really bad place and emotionally I wasn’t there.”
Other dinner speakers included Lee Bladon, who gave a moving account of the short life of his daughter Evie, who died in November 2015.
“She had fought so bravely for three years but her little body just couldn’t fight any longer against the terrible cocktail of medical problems she had to face daily,” he said.
“When Evie was born, we felt our lives were shattered. But Camp Simcha are unique in their ability to help you put your lives back together again.”
Work by children involved in the charity’s Arts at Home project were auctioned during the evening.
What goes through your mind in those first four weeks is very dark’
Paul and Louise Katin Hershy, Ariella and Rina Stimler Oliver and Charlie Van Emden