Ve’ahavta Lereacha Kamocha

By: Maayan Jaffe
Communications & Marketing Manager
THE ASSOCIATED

May 6 is going to be an active day for the Baltimore Jewish community – especially for those living in our neighborhood. CHAI’s “Good Neighbor Day” will refocus the organization’s annual spring event as a day of community giving, specifically by and for those living in the Glen, Cross Country, Fallstaff, Mount Washington and Cheswolde neighborhoods. It is becoming a day exactly as it sounds, a day of working together to strengthen and beautify our neighborhoods, as well as to help our senior residents prepare their homes for the summer. But it will still be a day to roll up your sleeves and have some fun!

CHAI board member Doni Greenwald says that for the past four years he and his family have volunteered on CHAI Weatherization Day and Senior Home Repair Day. He doesn’t consider himself a “handy guy,” he says with a smile, but he really gets into the work: raking leaves, trimming hedges and changing batteries in smoke detectors.

“It’s a great family event. I usually bring my kids, and they love it!” Doni says. “The seniors we visit appreciate seeing the kids as much as they appreciate the work we do.”

This year, the day will be even more meaningful for him and his family, says Doni. Volunteers are being encouraged to rally their neighbors to action, to inspire and encourage them to organize their own neighborhood projects, with the help and support of CHAI and the neighborhood associations. Examples of group projects could include park clean-ups, bulb/tree/community garden planting, yard and storm drain cleaning, alley/synagogue/church clean-ups, and assisting vulnerable members of the community.

“No one wants to take and not give,” says Doni. “The frum community is one of CHAI’s primary beneficiaries. Good Neighbor Day presents an opportunity for members of the frum community to show their appreciation for what CHAI does by giving back – to the organization and to each other.”

Glen-area resident David Brucker knows just how true Doni’s statements are. In his upper 80s, the retired registered nurse says that without the help of CHAI and its volunteers he would have long ago been moved into a geriatric facility. “When you get a little older and have been in the same home for a long, long time, it becomes a very comfortable place. It can be very traumatic to have to move to a new environment,” David explains, recalling how, during the fall’s Weatherization Day, a team of cadets from the area fire house performed basic yard work and removed debris to prepare the grass for the winter – something he could never have done on his own nor afforded to pay for.

“I live on social security – at least I try to live on social security. Maybe it is better to say I survive on social security. CHAI volunteers are a big help to me in many, many ways, and it is a wonderful thing to see they can do,” David says.

“It is clearly a part of our teaching to respect the elderly, to care for the elderly, but also to care for one another – for our neighbors,” says Richard Fradkin, an active CHAI volunteer. “This is doing for your neighbors as you would have done to you. It is wonderful to see the smiles on the homeowners’ faces, to see the people who live in our neighborhoods and need our help – and to do something about it. They can be the littlest things, but they make a big difference.”

CHAI executive director Ken Gelula agrees: “We are fortunate to live in our community. Let’s show our appreciation by taking time out of our busy lives to roll up our sleeves and help each other and our neighborhoods.”

Do you want to get involved, too? Visit http://www.chaibaltimore.org for more information about the May 6 volunteer day. You can also contact Chedva Rose at crose@chaibaltimore.org or 410-500-5325.

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Filed under Families, Social Services, Volunteering & Advocacy

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