Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, located in Mountainside, is a grief support center for children, young adults and families coping with the death of a parent, sibling or child. Imagine provides free peer grief support year-round for as long as is needed. Imagine’s mission is to create safe spaces where those who are grieving can share their stories and know they are not alone.
Camp Yachad is the JCC of Central Jersey’s summer camp located in Scotch Plains. For more than 30 years, Camp Yachad has been a place where both campers and young counselors develop into confident, kind and compassionate people through a fun-filled summer camp experience.
Together Imagine and Camp Yachad are partnering to bring their collective expertise to Imagine participants.
Beginning this summer, Camp Yachad will welcome children who are in the Imagine program to Camp Yachad at no cost. These children will experience the joy and magic of a Camp Yachad summer and feel the warmth of the Camp Yachad community and traditions at a time they need it most.
“Camp Yachad is a nurturing environment where campers can grow and build confidence in a safe space. There is so much support and love infused in our camp community. A summer at Yachad is truly a joy-filled experience, and we are so happy that Imagine participants will be joining us. We hope that this camp experience will help to ease their grief,” said Mallory Zipkin, Camp Yachad director.
Camp Yachad will also be welcoming Imagine teen volunteers who are trained in grief support on to the staff to bolster this partnership. In addition, Imagine will be providing training for all Camp Yachad staff on supporting children and peers who are grieving.
“We are so grateful for this partnership,” said Lindsay Schambach, Imagine’s executive director. “During the summers, when routines change, newly bereaved families are often seeking stability. For our children, new experiences, like making friends at camp, can support children’s transition through this difficult time. For our parents, the opportunity to have a summer filled with free camp is an opportunity to see kindness and support in truly tangible ways. We are so humbled by this partnership and the leadership of the JCC to understand the needs of newly bereaved families.”
The establishment of this program for summer 2023 has been made possible through generous donations from JCC members Eleanor and Jeff Peris and Dana and Adam Katz. Jeff Peris, who serves as Imagine’s Board Chair, said, “I am inspired by Imagine, a vital community organization that supports so many individuals and families at a time of intense grief and loss. I look forward to working closely with other committed community leaders to ensure its long-term presence.”
“The JCC camp experience was so important during the formative years for our children, and we are excited to give other children that same opportunity,” Adam Katz said.
Eleanor Peris feels the same way. “The JCC has always been a very important component of our children and grandchildren’s development from preschool and summer camp to their teenage and adult years,” she said. “The comprehensive JCC programming offered for all age groups provides cherished support to the entire community.”
To further support the partnership, the JCC is giving one-year complimentary JCC memberships to families receiving support services from Imagine.
The JCC of Central New Jersey is located at 1391 Martine Ave. in Scotch Plains. The JCC of Central New Jersey is a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, United Way of Greater Union County and the Westfield United Fund. Financial assistance is available for membership and various programs.