Nysha Recent News

Happenings around Hamaspik

By: Mendy Hecht

July 16, 2018

The Soul of Summer: Camp Neshoma Returns!

For close to three weeks every summer for years now, the children and teens supported by Hamaspik’s community-based services have converged on a Hamaspik facility for… Camp Neshoma!


Camp Neshoma is the summertime version of Hamaspik’s year-round After-School Respite (ASR) program. 


Three seasons of the school year, participants meet each school-day afternoon for several hours of supervised therapeutic activity supported by Hamaspik’s capable and caring staff.


Come the off-school summer season, though, Hamaspik of Rockland County has always coordinated full-day non-school programs with the calendar of the East Ramapo Central School District. 


Thus, from June 24th through the Fourth of July, and from August 12 through September 5, Hamaspik’s ASR beneficiaries this year will be enjoying no shortage of: arts and crafts, swimming, local trips and outings, outdoor sports, indoor games, camaraderie and good-old-fashioned fun… and all with the trademark heart and soul that marks not just Camp Neshoma but everything Hamaspik does.



Sunny Days amid ‘Living Years'


“Shnois Chaim” doesn’t lend itself to precise translation.  But the well-chosen phrase perfectly suits the program that carries it.


Whether it’s “living years” or “years of life,” the Hamaspik of Orange County program dubbed Shnois Chaim has been catering to a community’s seniors every Sunday through Thursday for close to four years now—serving them not just with all reverence due but with a heartwarming and nutritious lunch, too.


Loneliness among seniors is a growing problem increasingly drawing the attention of public-health professionals in developed countries worldwide.  But you’ll find none of that loneliness here.


Every day, a group of seniors converge on the ballroom of Hamaspik’s Administration Building at the gateway to Kiryas Joel. They’ll spend the next several hours nourishing their minds and hearts, bodies and souls alike—what with fresh and healthy snacks and drinks, stimulating lectures and arts-and-crafts activities, and therapeutic exercises provided by Shnois Chaim’s well-trained, loving, devoted and caring staff.


Come summertime, the seniors have been enjoying all of the above—and a good few moments out in the shaded sun and in the company of their peers, courtesy of trips to local parks and waterfronts for therapeutic hand massage (including essential oils) and breathing sessions.


The weather outside may be relaxation-perfect.  But at Shnois Chaim, every day is a sunny day.



Sign(ing) of the Times: New Brooklyn Home for 12 Individuals Now a Go!


It was December 18, 2017 that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 459 new housing opportunities statewide for New Yorkers with disabilities.  Among the 53 provider agencies to open some 80 new homes statewide was Hamaspik.


Furthering those opportunities this past May 11 was Hamaspik of Kings County Executive Director Hershel Wertheimer, who signed a contract for his agency’s newest full IRA that day.


The development is major news for 12 individuals who’ve been desperately waiting years for placement—and are now finally getting it;.


For Hamaspik, the occasion is equally historic—culminating as it does several levels of government approval, including the local Housing Committee, and Community Board 12.


And furthering community inclusion at a community’s very heart, the new Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) will be opened in central Borough Park, a Brooklyn neighborhood already extensively serviced by Hamaspik.


In a “MAZEL TOV!” in-house e-mail broadcast to Hamaspik-wide staff that same day, Mr. Wertheimer hailed the development “a date that Hamaspik will forever remember.”


He then proceeded to put it simplest and best: Twelve individuals “will have a new home.”


And with the new initiative by the Gov. and the New York State OPWDD, in partnership with Hamaspik, twelve new sets of parents will now join their peers in gratefully contrasting life before and after supervised housing for their precious kin.



New floor, higher level of quality for Upstate Hamaspik’s After-School Respite Programs


They may now be on a lower floor. 


But for two of Hamaspik of Orange County’s three After-School Respite (ASR) programs, everything’s on a higher level.


The ASR program is long a vital staple across the communities supported by Hamaspik in three counties.  It provides respite breaks to parents of children with special needs each school day, by giving their children therapeutic afternoon programs filled with stimulation and fun.


At Hamaspik of Orange County’s towering Admin Building, the ASR programs for girls and boys below age ten have now “gone up”—into brand-new and richly-decorated large activity rooms of their own in the building’s spacious basement.


At that level, “the kids now have more place and private spaces custom-designed with their needs in mind,” explains Respite Director Mrs. Tzippy Loeb.


The new arrangements come just in time for the seasonal Camp Neshoma program, Hamaspik’s day camp-themed summertime ASR program—which, this year, will be joined by several new staffers hired to support the several dozen youths who already attend (or will be attending) Hamaspik ASR.


They may have dropped to a lower level.  But with their new, improved and expanded activity spaces, Hamaspik of Orange County’s ASR certainly has things looking up.



A Supportive Peer Who Speaks Your Language(s)

The wonderfully talented and skilled employee can’t be identified for obvious reasons.


But the relatively new Hamaspik staffer is not just fluent in three languages, but in the language of recovery from serious mental illness, too.


As a Peer Support specialist with Hamaspik of Kings County’s Health and Recovery Plan (HARP) program in Brooklyn, she’s been there.  She knows first-hand what it’s like.  And that’s exactly why she does what she does. 


Hamaspik’s HARP program went into operation this February.  The complex and highly targeted program is an initiative of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), one of Hamaspik’s several public-sector partners.  It supplies people who have mental illness with an arsenal of tools to prevent and counteract the symptoms of chronic mental illness—including a trained Peer Support specialist.


Because it’s limited in whom it helps, Hamaspik’s HARP program currently serves only a handful of individuals—all of whom must meet exacting OMH criteria to qualify.


But once they’re in, the program is there to help get them “through serious issues in their lives,” explains Director Abraham (Mutty) Solomon, LMHC—with a little support from a peer.