by Janet McCarthy, Yachad Coordinator
Friday, Aug. 16: This afternoon we arrived at Mahoney State Park for Yachad’s annual camping weekend. We had reserved two cabins — one regular and one ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act ) accessible — so we knew our Yachad members with accessibility challenges would be able to enjoy camp with more ease and comfort. Yachad campers were Shari Binder, Eric Friedberg, Alan Friedman, Grace Isler, Josh and Michael Parsow, Lisa and Jillian Salomon, Avi Wolfson and Marilyn Zevitz. They’d been looking forward to this weekend since last year! Of course, our volunteer, Karen Lepp, and our Yachad Staff — Tyrie Cook, Mark Kazor, and me — were very happy to be back at Mahoney, too. I’d like to acknowledge that Tyrie is the caregiver for the Salomon girls, but she’s there and available for all our Yachad campers for which we’re very grateful.
Friday night, we welcomed Shabbat with candle lighting and a short prayer service. Then, we sat down to a wonderful dinner made by our resident chefs — Michael Parsow and Eric Friedberg. The guys cooked up angel hair pasta with a delicious sauce (flavored with sweet Italian turkey sausage) along with garlic bread and a tossed salad. Delicious! After dinner we celebrated Yachad members’ July and August Birthdays with a chocolate mousse-filled chocolate cake. As luck would have it, today was Karen Lepp’s actual birthday. Karen is Yachad’s #1 volunteer. She’s always there for the members and always engaged with them. It was a blessing for Yachad to be able to share her special day. Josh Parsow’s birthday was the day before and Eric Friedberg’s was in July, so we celebrated them, too.
Everyone loved the dinner, and the cooking experience was a benefit to all the members because it led to a conversation — with lots of and questions and answers — about stove and oven safety, good nutrition and cooking skills. We had planned to go miniature golfing after dinner, but the cooking Q&A was so interesting, we stayed in the cabin and kept talking instead.
Saturday, Aug. 17: Since Yachad members know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we greeted the morning with a breakfast of orange and grape juice, scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, waffles, four varieties of bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon. We then headed out on a Safari trip where we saw bear, bald eagles, and buffalo and were lucky enough to see a wolf. During the safari we also stopped and did walkabouts that let us get close to the more domesticated animals and pet them.
After our Safari we grabbed a quick lunch of cold cuts on Star Deli Challah (yummy). Then it was time for afternoon activities — horseback riding, fishing and crafts. Some of the most popular crafts were hand prints and a Tikkun Olam — repair the earth — wall plaque. The Yachad horseback riders had a really good time, as did those who participated in the fishing workshop. Lucky Gracie Isler caught the only fish but everyone enjoyed trying.
Next on the agenda was a group nature walk to the Playhouse to see the Melodrama. The walk and fresh air was so invigorating. At the play, everyone bought popcorn. The popcorn can be for eating, of course, but more importantly it’s for throwing at the melodrama villain when he enters the stage. Booing and popcorn throwing. What fun!
After the show we went back to the cabin and had a cook-out of hot dogs and hamburgers with a variety of salads. A perfect camp meal! After dinner we watched the movie Mama Mia on TV, and a very lively sing-a-long followed. This was a busy, fun-filled day. As the saying goes, ‘a great time was had by all’.
Sunday, Aug. 18: After a breakfast of cereal and bagels, we packed up for our return to Omaha. On most camping trips, people dread the carrying- in and carrying-out of the food and supplies. Not so with Yachad. Our members are the best at helping, and they know their hard work, positive attitude and cooperation is highly valued and appreciated. Omaha Yachad is already looking forward to next summer’s camping trip. Maybe we’ll have a Saturday night dance party with Karaoke. Or a cooking contest. Our members are up for anything! We have until next August to make our plans, and your creative ideas are welcome.
Yachad, The National Jewish Council for Disabilities, is a thriving 6,500 global organization dedicated to enhancing the life opportunities of individuals with disabilities and ensuring their inclusion in every aspect of Jewish life. The Omaha Yachad Chapter meets several times a month for a variety of spiritual, social and creative events. Support for members and families extend beyond the social network. We share a destiny and strive to help every Yachad member obtain personal and individualized goals. For further information, please contact our Yachad Coordinator Jan McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Jewish Family Service office at 402.330.2024.