A Mop, a Bucket and Salvation: Chesed of Lakewood Volunteers Sweep Away Despair

colBy R.S. There’s doing chesed and then there’s living chesed. The latter – that’s Chesed of Lakewood.

That was the sentiment expressed by a proud member of the community, whose family had recently been helped by Chesed of Lakewood.

This was a man, a well-respected local business owner, whose efforts on behalf of a number of communal organizations are legendary, a man who is accustomed to helping other, not coming onto others for help.
It therefore hit him especially hard when tragedy rocked his world, leaving him and his family floundering. Not only did he have to navigate his family through deep personal crisis, he also had to grapple with the harsh reality of depending on others. When Chesed of Lakewood, gently offered their assistance, he politely declined. He couldn’t bring himself to become a “nitzrach”.

But the Chesed of Lakewood volunteers didn’t stop there. They intuitively discovered what he needed and provided without him feeling needy, helping without him feeling helpless. Slowly, the family began holding their head high in the streets again; slowly they regained a modicum of self-respect and dignity. All along, in the backdrop of their lives, Chesed of Lakewood was there.

It was a late night encounter in shul between this head of household and a Chesed of Lakewood volunteer unaffiliated with his case that was the setting for the statement at the beginning of this article. The man had just left his home where a cleaning woman arranged by Chesed of Lakewood was working her magic. That menuchas hanefesh a clean home engenders, the feeling of stability, of optimism he carried with him as his home moved toward Pesach readiness prompted him to emotionally thank the volunteer he met in shul moments later.

“Somehow, Chesed of Lakewood was able to help me as no one else could, restoring the peace and tranquility to my home while still allowing me to hold onto my pride,” he told the volunteer. “Somehow you were able to figure out my needs before I knew them and fill them before I could ask.”

It was that modus operandi that brought Operation CLEAN into existence. As the organizations worked with families on an individual basis, they discovered a common need among all of the families they service come Pesach time. With the turmoil tearing their lives apart, they had no clue how they would make Pesach when their home was in shambles. While they were receiving help with food and clothing for Yom Tov, where would they put their food in a home full of chometz, a home that hadn’t seen a decent mop in weeks, let alone a full, in-depth Pesach cleaning?

Operation CLEAN brought qualified cleaning help into homes, subsidized by Chesed of Lakewood, giving these families the menuchas hanefesh they needed to embrace the upcoming Yom Tov. Ever since Operation CLEAN launched three years ago, dozens of families have reported a life changing difference. They are overwhelmed with gratitude as a stressful time in their already stressful lives becomes infinitely more manageable
That gratitude, says a Chesed of Lakewood coordinator, and the all-encompassing impact of Operation Clean, along with the other assistance Chesed of Lakewood provides, is a testament to the devoted volunteers of Chesed of Lakewood. “Our volunteers are incredibly gifted in their ability to help a family from the back end, without swooping in like a gallant hero to rescue a family in distress. They recognize the strength and dignity of these families and provide for them with such quiet grace, in a way that respects that dignity,” says the coordinator. “It’s our volunteers who have turned Operation CLEAN into such a game changing operation for so many families.”

As thousands of families in Lakewood sit down to their beautiful sedarim in just a few day’s time, among them will be some of Lakewood’s most unsung heroes, the volunteers of Chesed of Lakewood, who have dedicated themselves to providing simchas yom tov for so many of our brothers and sisters.

It’s not too late to be part of this tremendous zechus. Chesed of Lakewood has a 24-hour automated donation system ready to take your pledge. Please call 732-901-0482 x8 or visit www.chesedoflakewood.org

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