The varsity boys’ basketball teams at Sewanhaka, Bethpage and Hewlett high schools hosted charity basketball last week at all three schools to benefit SIBSPlace in the 19th annual Hoops for Hope fundraiser.
The matchup between Sewanhaka and H. Frank Carey, of Franklin Square, last Friday at Sewanhaka helped raise money, with the help of the Peninsula Kiwanis Club, for SIBSPlace — a cause that is dear to Sewanhaka assistant coach Bill Dubin, a survivor of colon cancer. Sewanhaka toppled Carey, 71-48.
Dubin was head coach at Hewlett High School for 23 years, and joined the staff at Sewanhaka this year — bringing the Hoops for Hope fundraiser to the school for the first time.
Survivorship in Brothers and Sisters, or SIBS, is a free after-school therapeutic program that helps siblings and parents cope with a family member’s severe illness. The program is sponsored by Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital. SIBSPlace operates in a facility in Rockville Center that opened in 2022, and now has a game room, art and group therapy rooms, a garden, a resource library and more so that kids can take part in typical childhood activities. It also provides bereavement services to children who have had a death in their family or of someone else close to them.
“A lot of times, the families are so involved with their sibling’s illnesses and doctors’ appointments and medical treatments, and sometimes the well child gets kind of left behind,” Dubin said. “This helps them to not only deal with their sibling’s illnesses, it also helps them deal with their own feelings (of) being scared, and sometimes we help with their sibling’s or parent’s death. It helps them adjust.”
The organization has served families in need for more than two decades, providing psychosocial support and helping children ages 5 to 17 work through the emotional difficulties of having loved ones with life-threatening illnesses. Children who have gone through the program often stay involved as volunteers with the organization.
“It enables kids to be kids, and not have to worry so much,” Dubin said.
Beyond his work coaching the Hewlett and Sewanhaka basketball teams, Dubin is also on the SIBSPlace board of directors.
“It’s the only program of its kind in the country,” he said.
The organization’s original donors first came together 30 years ago, when the Hewlett community banded together to help families with children who were diagnosed with cancer.
“From that,” Joanna Formont, the organization’s executive director, explained, “the community rallied together to provide babysitting, and dinners, and rides, and all of the support services the children needed at the time while their parents were either in the hospital, taking care of the actively ill child that was in the family, or they were working, and the kids needed that support.”
Then, Formont added, the community went a step further, looking into ways to provide emotional and mental health support to kids who have family members with severe illnesses — and SIBSPlace was born.
Families can come and get the services they need in the time they need, with no strings attached. In-person services are available throughout the week a week, and virtual services are available for those who can’t come to Rockville Centre.
Formont said that the program is looking to build and grow beyond Long Island, to expand its mission and help more children.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering is encouraged to get involved, whether they’re a teenager who needs volunteer hours or an adult looking to lend a hand, she said.
“Donations is a great way to get involved, and another way to get involved is just spreading the word,” Formont said. “If you know a family in your community that is coping with an illness or a loss, we hope that you would tell them about SIBSPlace. Spreading the word is really key.”
For more information on getting involved or donating, visit SIBSPlace.org.