Press Release (ePRNews.com) - Hackensack, NJ - Aug 23, 2017 - When their toddler Chana was being treated for a neuroblastoma at the Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Rabbi Chaim and Dr. Shoshana Poupko of Englewood, who are Orthodox, took turns on alternating Fridays walking the two-and-a-half hours from Englewood to Hackensack University Medical Center. This allowed for one parent to stay home with their other daughters while the other could be at the hospital with their sick child. Like many other parents, they stayed at the respite apartments at the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House, for families of seriously ill children being treated at Hackensack University Medical Center. That was three years ago.
Recent improvements have made it much easier for Sabbath-observant families staying at the newly renovated and renamed Suites on Second Street, thanks to amenities geared to the needs of Orthodox Jews. The idea to include these updates was spearheaded in part by the Poupkos’ experience and the desire to do something meaningful for the Jewish community in Chana’s memory.
When they heard that the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House was to be fully renovated, the Poupkos approached the Alfred N. Sanzari Family Foundation, which was helping to fund the project, about their desire to participate. Their plan was to renovate two Shabbat rooms to house a family for the weekend together, to further ease the burden for other Orthodox families who are already facing extraordinary circumstances.
“The residence now has elevators that stop on all floors automatically, lights that turn on without switches, and the like, plus distinct suites for men and for women with young children,”
explained Shoshana Poupko.
The couple turned to their religious community, Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, where Rabbi Poupko is the associate rabbi, for help raising funds. Within two weeks, the congregation raised $100,000 to help pay for two Shabbat rooms (one for men, one for women and children) equipped with Shabbat-friendly appliances; and a special Shabbat elevator that stops on every floor so that buttons need not be pushed.
Each apartment has a private bath and a kitchenette with a microwave, refrigerator, and a warming cart and electric hot water urn that can be turned on before the Sabbath and left on safely for the duration. Bikkur Cholim Bergen County stocks and cleans out the refrigerators weekly. Motion sensors turn on lights as needed.
“Because of these upgrades, observant Jews can use the front entrance and access the elevator, warm up kosher food that’s stocked in the refrigerators, and siblings can play games and read books that are now available,” said Poupko. “The Shabbat rooms are easing some of the stress during an especially trying time.”
The newly refurbished residence was reopened in March as Suites on Second Street at the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House with a total of six fully modernized suites. A secondary project is being planned around the side entrance, which is often used by religious families; this requires an additional $15,000 to install a paved path and to landscape the area. If you are interested in making a donation to support this initiative, please reach out to Amy Glazer, Director, Tackle Kids Cancer and Annual Giving. She can be reached at 551-996-3720.
“Now, Hackensack University Medical Center is a real option for Orthodox families seeking treatment for their loved ones, who might not have been able to be here otherwise in the past,” said Shoshana Poupko. “The treatment we got at Hackensack University Medical Center is what propelled us to do this; we were treated like family and we are still in touch, three years later, with some of the staff there.”
To learn more about Hackensack Meridian Health please visit https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/
Photo Caption: Pictured at the ribbon cutting of the newly-refurbished “Suites on Second Street” at HackensackUMC’s Audrey Hepburn Children’s House are (left to right): Robert Budelman, Dr. Stephen Percy, Rabbi Chaim Poupko, Ayele Poupko, Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, Elana Poupko, Shoshana Poupko, Emma Ferrer, Benita Sanzari Raia, Dana Sanzari Jareck, Jennifer McGee, Ro Sorce, Heather Choi.