9/13/15 - OHELâ€™s Retreat to Bushkill Inn Provides Inspiration, and Renewal to those with Psychiatric Disabilities
OHELâ€™s Annual Summer Trip Brings Hope and Happiness into the New Year
This past week, OHELâ€™s Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) went on a 3 day retreat to Bushkill Inn, in the Poconos. Over 100 individuals participated in the trip, all of whom live in an OHEL residence or in OHELâ€™s supported housing and apartment programs.Â
While trip participants have significant psychiatric disabilities, through the help of OHELâ€™s dedicated and devoted team of staff and therapists, many are effectively managing their illness, leading fulfilled, happy and very independent lives integrated within the community.
This annual trip not only gives participants of OHELâ€™s AMHS an opportunity to feel special, but like any vacation, it provides them a temporary relief from the anxieties of life. It gives them an opportunity to go beyond their normal limits, and the freedom to push themselves out of their comfort zones.Â
Various life situations and settings that may seem passive for some people, can carry much anxiety and tension for others. The individuals had the opportunity to experience countless activities and situations that others may take for granted. Some individuals felt inspired to talk to new people, while others were encouraged to sit and mingle with large groups. Some members tried new foods, while others overcame fears - whether the fear of talking to others or swimming in water. This year, for the first time, the event also featured an interactive live game show, and a kumsitz by Yosroel Erps, â€śSocialization By Saraâ€ť and â€śArt of Conversationâ€ť by Sarah Kahan and Laurie Szenicer. There was also a whole slew of activities that were aimed at breaking down social barriers and encouraging socialization among OHELâ€™s individuals like speed dating, spoon beading, painting, Zumba, water aquatics, mini golf, boating sports, and of course hiking to Bushkill falls. Â
The event was a tremendous success both in terms of the excitement of the participants and with the personal growth some of OHELâ€™s clients were able to achieve. To overcome his fear of the dark, one of the members decided to join the group for an early evening hike. Another member who was afraid of boatingÂ was encouraged to go out in a paddle boat with another group of individuals.Â
The exhilaration and self-confidence she gained on steering the paddle boat around the lake was celebrated by all!
Persons who interacted with the OHEL group had nothing but compliments. Laurie Szenicer, Development Oficer at OHEL, said â€śOur clients wait all year for this trip. Often, individuals with psychiatric disabilities face high levels of anxiety and stress on a daily basis, but over these three days I saw our individuals completely relaxing - as if some of their anxiety and tension took a vacation day just as they didâ€ť.
Yossie and Goldie were among the many OHEL married couples who enjoyed this trip. As Yossie conveyed, â€śWe are loving every minute of this vacation in this magnificent hotel. Â The mountain air, the waterfalls, the food, the ping pong we played, the camaraderie of our friends â€“ it all makes for a wonderful vacation and we are grateful to OHEL.â€ť, said Yossie.Â
OHEL would like to thank the donors, sponsors, and family members, without whom this trip would not have been possible. Mr. & Mrs. Bert Gross, Rose Pollack. Special thanks to Howard & Susan Bruch longtime friends and donors for this trip. Â Weâ€™re honored that Howard and his son Max joined for a day of the retreat to meet OHELâ€™s individuals and see first-hand how they are enjoying the trip. Â Kudos to Elaine Schickman, OHELâ€™s board member and her husband Bernie who also participated in the retreat and spent countless hours playing ping pong and board games with OHELâ€™s individuals and ensuring that they had a great time. OHELâ€™s devoted staff worked tirelessly to make sure that this trip was a success, and that every individual had an unforgettable few days away from the city. What a way to end the year and begin the New Year with so many individuals feeling refreshed, invigorated and accomplished.