The i-Shine team, from left, Andy Lauber, Annette Kaufman and Stacey Zrihen. The program provides activities and homework assistance for children in kindergarten through eighth grade who have sibling or parent with a terminal illness.
The girls take part in a program known as i-Shine, which, for the past six years at HAFTR’s Lower School, has served as a haven for children in kindergarten through eighth grade who have a sibling or parent with a terminal illness. The idea sprouted in 2006, when Woodmere resident Annette Kaufman, an occupational therapist who has treated children with cancer for more than 20 years, saw that the siblings of the terminally ill children she worked with were burdened by schoolwork, and their parents were too busy with doctors’ appointments and running daily errands to keep their households afloat.
“When a family member is sick, the whole family suffers tremendously,” Kaufman said. “If this was happening in functional families, I knew it had to be happening everywhere else.”
Deena Intrator, a breast cancer survivor and a fellow Woodmere resident, was noticing those same problems that year, and she began sending high school volunteers from the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach to the homes of families touched by cancer to keep the unaffected children company and offer
“When I spoke with Annette’s sister-in-law about what I was doing, she told me Annette was also looking to start a program for children with a terminally ill sibling or parent too,” said Intrator, another co-founder. “When I had breast cancer, I felt that my children needed more support, and when I was younger, my mother had a stroke, so I knew what the children and families were going through.”
Around the same time, Lawrence resident Stacey Zrihen, a marketing professional, was looking for volunteer work. “I had lunch with Annette, and she told me about her idea to start a program for children who have a terminally ill sibling or parent, and I thought the idea was brilliant,” Zrihen said. “I wanted to use what I was good at, and I felt that I was lucky to be able to do something for the community.”