I-shine offers innovative after-school support to children living with illness, loss

I-shine offers innovative after-school support
to children living with illness, loss

Through a generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Chai Lifeline West Coast is pleased to announce i-Shine, Chai Lifeline’s after-school program, to the Los Angeles area.

The Foundation’s $200,000 grant will enable Chai Lifeline West Coast, which provides emotional, social, and financial support to seriously ill children and their families, to now be able to provide an invaluable program of fun, games, friendship and mentorship to scores of elementary and middle school-age children living with illness or loss in their homes.

i-Shine was created by Chai Lifeline to meet the unique needs of children whose siblings are ill or who are bereaved of a sibling or parent. “These children often suffer in silence,” explained Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s executive vice president. “They may come home to an empty house or a housekeeper instead of a parent. They might feel that no one will understand their particular sorrow or they simply may not want to worry an already overburdened parent. As a result of their home situations, though, parents and educators can see behavioral or academic issues in school. By providing stability, mentorship, and help, i-Shine gives children a time and place where the focus is on them and where they can shine.”

Twice a week, children will meet after school in the Fairfax/La Brea area (Mondays) or the Pico/Robertson area (Wednesdays). i-Shine pairs its young participants with high-school age counselors and mentors who provide homework assistance and tutoring (where indicated), play games, engage in sports activities and enjoy a snack and dinner.

“By the time children go home their homework is finished and they’ve eaten dinner. We hope that by relieving parents of these tasks, they will be able to spend some quality leisure time with their children,” said Randi Grossman, MPH, Chai Lifeline West Coast director.

DON’T FORGET THE FUN In the eight years since its inception on the east coast, Chai Lifeline, parents and schools have seen marked improvements in academic and social skills of i-Shine participants. For its young participants, though, the emphasis is on fun and friendship. At i-Shine, children can develop peer relationships with others living in difficult situations. Through games, interactions, sports, arts and crafts, baking, and just ‘hanging out,’ children have myriad opportunities to laugh and enjoy their time together. Counselors become trusted mentors as well as compassionate listeners.

Ms. Grossman is certain that i-Shine will give children in Los Angeles the same opportunity. “We saw how quickly friendships developed during our pilot i-Shine program last year. We are looking forward to expanding the program and we’re grateful to The Foundation for the support that will allow so many more children to benefit.”

The Foundation’s President and CEO Marvin Schotland, stated: “We are proud to support Chai Lifeline’s i-Shine program, which seeks to improve the well-being of children impacted by the death or illness of a parent or sibling. Its approach of utilizing Jewish experiences and story-telling to help children heal has enormous potential to benefit the community today and generations to come. We look forward to more children being assisted by this vitally important program.”

See the i-Shine brochure here.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Chai Lifeline West Coast is actively recruiting high school students who can donate one or two afternoons a week after school as well as adult volunteers to help with the program. Call Sheva Gralnik at 310 274-6331 or email westcoast@chailifeline.org for more information or to volunteer.


Chai Lifeline West Coast is the regional branch of the international children’s health support organization. Chai Lifeline’s emotional, social and financial support enables seriously ill children and their families to cope with the crises and daily challenges of serious pediatric illness. www.chailifeline.org/westcoast


Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1 billion entrusted to it by over 1,200 families. The Foundation partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. Over the past 25 years, The Foundation has distributed $1 billion in grants to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum. www.jewishfoundationla.org