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Structured Caring: Reaching Out to Families with Children with Special Needs

When loving a child with special needs, the pressure and the work to meet his/her needs are constant. Crises come regularly; exhaustion is a constant companion. It is a unique struggle. That’s why at Or Ami, our Henaynu Caring Community Committee, in partnership with our Brandon Kaplan Special Needs Program, has found a unique way of reaching out. We have created a special outreach chairperson who reaches out regularly, multiple times over the course of a year, to each family with a child with special needs.

Once a year the families receive a letter (see below). Then the contacts begin. Caring is heart-felt, but the pressures of life keep us from regularly participating in random acts of kindness. That is why we have created a structure, led by a caring individual, to deepen our support and outreach.

This year’s letter:

Dear NAME:
I am writing on the request of Rabbi Paul Kipnes and our Henaynu Caring Community Committee. I have been asked to co-chair the Henaynu Caring Community Sub-Committee to help serve the needs of the congregants who have children with special needs. As the mother of two special needs children, I understand the daily struggles and joys of parenting our unique children. I also know that, at times, it can seem like no one else “gets it” — the particular sorrows of seeing our son’s or daughter’s differences, the struggle with the school system, or the isolation that our families experience. We all crave community, a place where we can share our extraordinary lives and be understood. Our Rabbi, our Cantor and the members of Congregation Or Ami want to provide you that community. We want you to know that you can reach out to Rabbi Kipnes and to the Henaynu Caring Community Committee for support. Perhaps the stresses that you experience become part of your routine, but there may be times that you feel you need extra care and prayers from others. Please know that we are here for you. I will be calling you sometime within the next couple of months to check in with you. In the meantime, you can reach me at PHONE NUMBER or [email protected]. L’Shalom, Diane Smith

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