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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Chai-Life Line dba Chai Lifeline Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Health, Judaism, Patient & Family Support, Religion



Chai Lifeline’s guiding principles are

  • That seriously ill children need and deserve as happy and normal a childhood as possible;
  • That illness affects each member of the family;
  • That the well-being of an ill child is impacted by the well-being of his or her family;
  • That pediatric illness can have a devastating financial effect on families.

With this in mind, Chai Lifeline strives to

  • Find ways to bring joy to the lives of our young patients and their families through creative, innovative, and effective family-focused programs, activities, and services;
  • Engender hope and optimism in children, families, and communities;
  • Educate and involve communities in caring for ill children and their families;
  • Provide unparalleled support throughout the child’s illness, recovery and beyond;
  • Build communities among children and families living with illness or loss that allow them to engage, strengthen, and encourage one another;
  • Offer all services free of charge to ensure that every family has access to the programs it needs.

Results: In 2010: 1. We built a new, state-of-the-art medical center at the Camp Simcha/Camp Simcha Special campus, the first step in doubling the capacity of the camps. 2. Hundreds of children received a "booster shot" of confidence, friendship, and support at Friends 'n Fun weekends across North America. 3. We opened after-school programs for children living with illness or loss in their homes in three additional cities. 4. Over 18,100 hospital visits helped children laugh through their pain and gave crucial emotional support to parents.

Target demographics: Children, teens, and young adults with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, disabilities, and chronic disease.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 4,300 children and their families

Geographic areas served: North America, Europe, Israel

Programs: Chai Lifeline understands that a child’s illness creates a tear in the fabric that holds families together. Our network of 24 programs and services strengthen the family unit, giving children and parents the tools to remain cohesive and hopeful from the moment of diagnosis. Programs are divided into four major categories: camping’ concrete living services; counseling and support; recreation and the arts. All programs are free of charge. Chai Lifeline’s flagship programs are its two camps for seriously ill children and teens, Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special. These camps are place where pain and illness vanish, and where children are reminded every day that anything is possible. The personalized attention and genuine regard of compassionate, trained staff are potent medicine for campers who are often socially isolated as a result of illness. Deep friendships and camaraderie developed through bunk living and everyday triumphs enhance resilience, raise confidence, and give 450 children and teens the will to keep fighting the devastating social and emotional impact of living with illness. Concrete living services enable families to maintain important routines and provide unparalleled support during medical crises. Professional case managers/patient navigators provide immediate emotional support, medical referrals, information and advocacy. Hot meals and hospital visits from volunteers lift spirits as they nourish bodies. Insurance advocacy guides parents through the maze of regulations and reimbursements. Educational support, including tutoring, loans of laptop computers, and webcam connections between child and classroom, enables children who can’t be in school to remain current in the classwork. Chai Lifeline offers free counseling to ill children and their immediate families. Parents have found information and friendship through ChaiLine therapist-facilitated telephone support groups and interactive telephone sessions with medical and mental health experts. Every year, hundreds of families attend retreats for families coping with life-threatening illness, chronic disease and disability, or bereavement. Recreational activities during the year facilitate friendships and peer support. Regional outings give families a chance to reconnect, exchange information, and absorb new ideas for coping with the unique challenges of pediatric illness. Children’s activities enable ill children and their siblings to befriend the only people whom they feel truly understand them: others in their situation. Creative arts offer an avenue for expression and friendship.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 1

Chai Lifeline is a corrupt organization. The River Reporter just ran a story that the neighbors of Camp Simcha had fought with them for fourteen years over the sewer system. Chai Lifeline had not built a new sewer even though the NY Post reported that Mr. Bookman had donated $900,000 for it in 2012 and filed a complaint with the NYS Attorney General. Now that Chai Lifeline is begin forced to build the sewer by the NYS Attorney General they are twisting the facts and are publishing stories stating that they themselves decided to build the sewer to expand Camp Simcha. In the stories, they have the gall to request donations to expand the camp after they had misappropriated Mr. Bookman’s money and are taking credit for building the sewer! How slimy can you get!

Here are a couple of facts about Chai Lifeline that are not commonly known. Chai Lifeline pays to publish their stories on sites where negative comments are rejected by the publisher to keep their advertising, allowing Chai Lifeline to twist the truth.

Chai Lifeline bullies other charities. The refuse to work with others and would rather not help children than to share any credit. As one example of many, they were recently thrown out of a yeshiva because another charitable organization was present, thereby not helping traumatized students after seven children had died in a fire.

By the way, you can ignore the positive comment from Thankfulvolunteer. If you want to know who wrote it, just ask the board members.

There is no way they are getting another cent from me.

47 Harvey B.


Rating: 1

I am the biggest supporter ever of Chai Lifeline. However, in a recent interview of the Executive Vice President by the Jewish Week editor and publisher, the Chai Lifeline top executive was asked if I was, indeed, the charity’s largest donor. He said I was one of the largest donors, adding,“there are a few” in that category, according to editor, who said the Executive Vice President declined to name the others. It is not clear what the word “category” means so I offer Chai Lifeline $1,000,000 for immediate proof of these aforementioned "few” other donors that gave a similar amount as me. To be fair, I will allow them to count any donor whose lifetime contributions that are within 25% of mine.

So what do you do when you find yourself faced with the following ethical and moral dilemma – you totally support the mission and work an organization provides but are confronted with the real possibility the leadership is dishonest? Do you walk away from the people the charity supports or do you make your continued financial support contingent on an immediate leadership change? I see no choice but to only continue my support with a complete change in leadership. The leadership of any charity, and especially one that deals with the individual and family needs associated with sick children, must be true to their word on all counts.

In 2012, I heard that Chai Lifeline had a problem with the Camp Simcha sewer system. The health department warned the camp that they cannot expand, and the camp had to take on strong conservation measures.

I donated $900,000 as a directed contribution for the sewer and the naming rights, expecting to name it after myself. I wanted to show how crazy this naming rights can become. By the way, in case you’re wondering, my wife said there’s no way her name would go on it with me!

In mid-2013, I offered the single largest donation ever to Chai Lifeline. This donation would have raised my lifetime donations to a level that the Executive Director of Development had told me and other donors for many years would give them the honor of having the Chai Lifeline organization dedicated in their name.

The Executive Vice President and the board rejected the donation. They claimed the Executive Director, the highest paid employee, who collected most of the money for the organization for nineteen years and always gave out honors and dedications, did not have the right to make the offer. The Executive Director of Development was represented as a principle of the organization and as such had entered into a legally binding contract on behalf of the organization. Based on the condition on the donation the board rejected the donation. I find the rejection of this donation appalling at the least, in direct conflict with the organization's mission to help sick children and their families, and a real question of the execution of each of the board member's fiduciary responsibility.

I still hadn’t heard that the sewer was built so I sent emails to the Executive Vice President, and to the entire board of directors. Their answers were not responsive to my direct inquiries.

I realized that they may no longer have the money for the sewer, even though the donation should have been segregated from general operating funds. I emailed the Executive Vice President and the board of directors and very clearly give them three options: (1) show me the $900,000 is accounted for, (2) return the money to me, or (3) resign. They never choose one so I informed them I will contact the NYS Attorney General and file a complaint. They still didn’t respond with a choice.

I filed a complaint in late 2013 that Chai Life had misappropriated $900,000. Through it all the Executive Vice President has never contacted me.

The law requires a donation for a specific project to become restricted money; the charity must not spend it on anything other than what the donor requested. The Executive Vice President now claims the Executive Director sent an email in 2012 that made the funds unrestricted; the Executive Director refutes the meaning of the email. Additionally, on September 3, 2014, the Executive Vice President sent an email to the publisher and editor of the Jewish Week stating, “As I said we always had enough available funding for this project from the very onset.” If their story is true, why didn’t they write it to me in 2013?!

Regardless, the organization has to keep the funds available. I have donated restricted funds to Hatzolah five times to buy ambulances and over ten times to the Wildlife Conservation Society and never once did either spend the money on anything but on what it was directed to be spent on. All of these commitments were done verbally like the agreement with Chai Lifeline

In early 2014, after the loss of my support and the loss of their largest donation ever, the organization remortgaged Camp Simcha and used the $1,000,000. This is a direct violation of a 2009 commitment they made in writing to me about being fiscally responsible when I threatened to stop donating.

We all agree that Chai Lifeline does great things. But they have lost at least their largest donor, and I believe many more will follow. For the organization to survive and prosper, I believe the Executive Vice President and the entire board of directors must be replaced immediately. By supporting this organization under current management, donors are hurting its potential, or possibly its survival.

I am hoping all will see the light and stop supporting Chai Lifeline. Once management is changed, I strongly suggest that all support it with all their means.

And the name of the sewer — I changed my mind. I want to name the cesspool after the Executive Vice President and some of the board of directors.

I stand behind the facts in the article. If the Executive Vice president and the Board of Directors of Chai Lifeline can disprove them all, I will donate $5,000,000 to Chai Lifeline. To get this money, they must publish their disproof in a prominent publication, and be willing to publicly open their audited books to prove their facts. If I get such a request, I will forward it to the Attorney General as fraud as I guarantee it can’t be true.

What will you do about Chai Lifeline now that you know what’s going on? Stop supporting it or move over to the dark side?

Review from Guidestar