Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Silent Tragedy of Our Times

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MARCH Self-Sufficiency Programs

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MARCH Financial Assistance

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MARCH Social Events & Seminars

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MARCH Children's Events

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MARCH Care Packages

Sunday, March 12, 2006

MARCH Pesach Packages

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Front Page Magazine – May 30, 2005 – Cover Story

For the past few months, every time I drove down Doughty Boulevard, I couldn’t help but notice a storefront with a sign that says: MARCH—Mother Alone Raising Children. Knowing the difficulties that single mothers face from my experience as a social worker, I always wondered what exactly MARCH does. It may not be a high profile organization, but the name alone seems to indicate a very altruistic raison d’etre, so I decided to simply go up to the door and find out. What greeted me was more than I had expected. When I opened the door, I stepped into a world of care, concern understanding, and absolute goodness.

MARCH was founded in December of 2000 to help people in a unique and difficult situation. All of the women serviced by MARCH commenced their married life the same way we all do—with excitement, dreams, hope, and enthusiasm. They proceeded to grow thriving Jewish families, and then something stepped in and disrupted their lives. Whether it was a divorce or the passing of a spouse, the mothers’ lives took an immediate and dramatic turn. Overnight they were forced to assume new roles. In one moment the financial responsibilities of raising a family crashed down upon them, along with the difficulties of being the emotional anchor of a family in troubled waters.

These mothers are often overwhelmed with the suddenness of these new tasks, along with the feeling that they are all alone in a world of “normal families.” These emotions weigh heavily upon the household, and the entire family enters a downward spiral. The mother gets depressed, the children feel it, and the children often begin to display at-risk behaviors. This depresses the mother further and sustains the devastating cycle. The situation is truly out of control. This is when MARCH steps in.

MARCH has two primary goals. The first is to help the families they service cope with the financial difficulties they face. Yet, the key goal is to ensure that these families know that they are not alone—that there are people who genuinely care about them, and that there are others in the same situation as them. This is incredibly meaningful to people who feel isolated and uncared for.

Every month MARCH sends out the Chizzuk newsletter, which is an eight-page pamphlet filled with inspiration, advice, tips, and motivational slogans. As I read through one of the recent ones, I couldn’t help but feel uplifted myself. The newsletter is one big supportive hug on paper. It shows the mothers that they can lead normal and happy lives. MARCH tries to distribute the newsletter in time for Shabbos, so that on Friday night—which can normally be a very difficult and lonely time for these mothers—they have something with which to sit back, read, and feel loved.

But MARCH goes beyond a monthly newsletter. MARCH also runs social events several times a year. In December they threw a Chanukah party complete with a carnival, prizes, a Shloime Dachs concert, and an array of tasty treats. On June 5th they will host a gathering of 350 mothers for an afternoon of inspirational speakers, buffets, and socializing. The strength that mothers draw from meeting others, making new friendships, and forging new supportive relationships is immeasurable.

One mother took her eleven-year-old son out of Yeshiva early to come to the Chanukah party. She said that she wanted him to see that he was not alone. When the evening drew to a close, he exclaimed, "I never knew that there are so many other kids going through the exact same thing as me!" Social events are also a chance for these mothers to get out without having to spend money that they don’t have. They feel pampered and taken care of, which is a feeling they don’t get too often. They are welcomed by people with smiles on faces—smiling at them—and the feeling in the room is simply electric.

In addition to the emotional support provided by the programs mentioned above, MARCH has programs to help the financial needs of their families. Before Pesach, Shavous, Rosh Hashana, Succos, Chanukah, and Purim, MARCH sends out huge boxes to each of the families. In typical MARCH fashion, these boxes are not just filled with every food needed—or wanted—for the holiday, but also with gifts for all the members of the family. The volunteers spend time selecting gifts that are appropriate for each age group and gender, so that everyone in the family feels special and cared for. These packages come at a time when there is not only financial stress, but also the psychological stress that holidays bring to a family that feels isolated and alone.

MARCH also has a number of funds to deal with special needs as they arise. The Pesach Fund, the Emergency Fund, and the Summer Camp Fund are currently in effect. Before Pesach, MARCH determines the most needy of their serviced families based on letters, references, and the application information, and then sends them generous checks. The Emergency Fund is employed throughout the year for special causes. For example, a mother recently needed surgery. The insurance covered the surgery, but the deductible was $500—$500 more than she had. The Emergency Fund took care of that. The last fund is for summer camp. We all know what camps cost these days, and we can all imagine how important it is for these mothers to get a break from time to time. Here MARCH uses a very ingenious solution. They call the camps, explain to them the situation, and ask that the camps match the amount given to them by the fund. MARCH also speaks to school administrators on behalf of their families, and is able to secure for them full tuition scholarships or partial scholarships. These are the main functions of MARCH as of yet.

Right now, however, MARCH is on the verge of expanding their services with three major programs that will enhance the lives of their families even more. The first is the dental and optometry program. MARCH has been approaching dentists, orthodontists, optometrists, and opticians throughout the area and asking them to volunteer their services for the families in MARCH that cannot cover the costs. The response has been overwhelming. These professionals have volunteered thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars worth of services. This is so critical for the families of MARCH. So many of them are living paycheck to paycheck, and when a thousand-dollar dental job faces them, they simply cannot afford it and keep pushing it off.

Another project MARCH is working to get started is the financial guidance program. In many homes, the finances are taken care of by the husband. When mothers are suddenly faced with this new responsibility, they often don’t have the know-how and are lost. When this is coupled with an otherwise distressed financial situation, it can be a fiscal nightmare. Credit card debt starts soaring, bills are left unpaid, utilities are shut off, and sometimes evictions are threatened. To help mothers cope with this challenge, MARCH has contacted dozens of accountants and financial planners, and asked them to help by volunteering their time and services. Once again the response was excellent. These professionals have also offered thousands of man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars of services, and MARCH is geared to tap into this incredible generosity.

The last project that MARCH is working to begin is a new and used furniture and clothing program. As the director of MARCH told me, “A woman’s home is her sanctity, and it is of the utmost importance that a woman feel proud of her sanctity!” Most of the families in MARCH don’t have the money to purchase new furniture, and when the furniture they have falls apart, it often remains that way. It becomes embarrassing for them to invite others to their homes, and the family becomes even more isolated than they were before. Boruch Hashem, MARCH has been able to set up a program where people donate new or almost new furniture to these families. Some of the furniture is truly elegant and can really light up a home. There is also a program in the works for the families in MARCH to acquire new or like-new clothing.

However, these three programs that have so much potential and can do so much good have not really been running as they can. Everything is arranged, but the running of such programs requires an immense amount of work. MARCH needs money to be able to fund the running expenses of these programs. And that is where we need you. MARCH is reaching out to you, to ask for your help in the amazing work that they do. This is work in which we should all be involved, and if we can’t do it physically, we should at least try to help support it. Something that makes assistance to this program so exceptional is that every dollar donated goes so far. This is because MARCH has access to close to two million dollars in services, yet it only needs a tenth of that to be able to utilize it. So every time you donate $180, a family out there will be able to receive $1,800 in services! That alone makes this tzedakka so unique. But when you combine that with the kind of incredible work MARCH does, it is clear that this is a cause in which we should all take part—and want to take part. May Hashem bless you for your kindness and generosity!

MARCH is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Checks can be made payable to:
1214 Broadway, Suite 406
New York, NY 10001

If you would like to contact MARCH or volunteer your services, please call or e-mail them at:
Tel - 212-696-5978;
E-mail - MothersAlone@aol.com.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Press - 5 Towns Jewish Times, June 24 2004 - The Silent Crisis

By Paula Simmonds

Looking at the five women who comprised the panel representing MARCH (Mothers Alone Raising Children), which took place at the Young Israel of Woodmere on a recent Shabbos, one would never guess at the daily struggles they face. Leah, Chaya Sorah, Tanya, Frumie and Devorah all appeared both composed and put-together, as they revealed often poignant details of life as a single Orthodox Jewish parent. The panel discussion – part of a larger Shabbos program – highlighted the paradox of keeping it all together on the outside, while meeting the enormous challenge of raising their families alone.

Rabbi Hershel Billet introduced the program, noting how the phenomenon of single parent families now affects people across the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy. Rabbi Billet explained that he made a decision to host MARCH in his shul, because something about the sincerity of the volunteers behind MARCH touched him deeply. He noted that we have many worthwhile grassroots organizations that have sprung up in recent years in our community, but none addressing this previously unspoken cause. In fact, for an organization characterized by it’s commitment to assisting families quietly, this first public appearance was a reluctant departure from their normal modus operendi – arranged with Rabbi Billet and Young Israel member Allen Ganz’s assistance, in order to garner support for the silent crisis MARCH is working to combat.

“I wish someone would offer to sit with my son in shul on a Shabbos morning,” said Devorah, as she answered the question about what was the hardest thing as a single parent. “Not having anyone around to share my child’s successes,” was Frumie’s touching answer to the same question. When asked what kinds of concrete help could be offered by the community, MARCH volunteer Briendy spoke of the desperate need for funds from the community to help support the many innovative programs they are trying to implement, including a furniture exchange which provides both material support and dignity to families trying to regain their footing after devastating loss and abandonment.

“We’re trying to offer single parent families a way to heal and move forward from some of the hurt they have experienced,” said Yitzchok, another key volunteer, “but it’s getting harder and harder to accomplish our goals if we stay behind the scenes. There is so much that we do with so little,” said Yitzchok, but in recent months, the organization has been forced to stop the small monthly stipends that were being sent to some needy families, due to a lack of funding. Amazingly, some stipend recipients have written in to say that as much as they appreciate the stipends, it is the warm, encouraging words of the monthly Chizzuk newsletter that mean so much to them. One parent even wrote in to say, “Whatever you do, please don’t stop sending me the monthly newsletter. Its words of inspiration literally keep me going.”

Some of the panel participants explained the difficulty of trying to balance the need to support their families, be both mother and father to their children, as well as to try in some small way to move on with their lives, despite often scary circumstances. Leah spoke of how much it meant to her to come home to a gift box from MARCH on Purim, which reminded her that someone truly cared. “You really can’t imagine how special I felt when I opened that box and saw that I was not forgotten,” said Leah. Tanya asked that people remember them for Shabbos with a solid invitation, as opposed to the vague open invitation which many find hard to accept. Chaya Sarah described a typical day, filled by a grueling work schedule, having to be on all evening for her children, and then remembering to call her own mother to check in on her before collapsing into bed.

After the womens’ comments, the presentation opened into a lively discussion, as the audience asked for more suggestions as to how they could be of genuine assistance. Some audience participants, clearly moved, made offers of goods and services, such as one woman who explained she could offer her services as a sheitel macher, and a garment manufacturer who made an offer of clothing. Suggestions were also made that an accountant or lawyer could offer reduced fees for services, and Rabbi Billet announced that a local optometrist and a local dentist have each generously offered their help in the form of some free exams.

One participant came up with the idea to set up a hotline for the families, but Briendy reminded everyone present that all good ideas take funds to implement, and that one can never go wrong by offering some cash assistance to this worthwhile organization. In order to volunteer, or offer your assistance to MARCH, e-mail MothersAlone@aol.com or call 212-696-5978.
Checks can be mailed to:
MARCH – 1214 Broadway, Room 406, New York, NY 10001

Press - The Star, June 17 2004 - Facing the world alone

Organization helps single mothers battle loneliness; provides funds

By Jodi Bodner DuBow

Five women, each with their own painful story, each there to raise the
awareness of a rather new grassroots effort to help single mothers raising
children alone, addressed a small crowd at the Young Israel of Woodmere on
Saturday afternoon.

There to represent MARCH, Mothers Alone Raising Children, they spoke of
the "silent crisis" that is invading a growing number of families in the
Orthodox community. It was the organization's first public forum.
Shabbos is the hardest time," said Devora, who asked that the audience
look out for, and embrace these families. "I would love it if someone offered to
take my three boys to shul and show them how to daven," she said. "They have
stopped wanting to go; they have no one to sit with."
"One of the biggest adjustments after my divorce," said Tanya, "was
having no one to wait for after shul. "I felt lost. Inviting us to a Shabbos
meal would go a long way."

MARCH was founded about three years ago when one man started dating and
uncovered the despair and desolation felt by the single mother. Anonymously,
he opened a PO Box and began sending money to one or two single mothers. "One
became five, which became 25," said Briendy, a key volunteer, "and today we
help between 500-550 single mothers and their children." About 60 live in the Far
Rockaway/Five Towns vicinity. Most are the products of divorce; some are
widows. Families average between 3-4 children.

Existing purely through the help and efforts of anonymous volunteers
(MARCH has no paid employees) MARCH provides monthly stipends; a monthly
newsletter called "the Chizuk Newsletter" to offer encouragement and
support; help with attaining scholarships for school and summer camp; pre-paid calling cards,
all donated by IDT; fully donated costume jewelry and even sometimes real
jewelry that helps the woman feel prized. Additionally, they prepare and
send gift baskets filled with nosh, toys and holiday cheer for Chanukah, Purim and
Pesach, hold a twice yearly social event and have begun a furniture exchange
that provides much needed furniture in decent condition to some of the families.

The symposium, which followed a morning lecture delivered by Esther
Englard, herself the product of a similar set of scary and often dire
circumstances, elicited response from the audience. One manufacturer came
forward with the donation of 500 children's bathing suits, yet another offered her time, still another a suggestion: why not start a hotline so women could call in their needs?

MARCH is working on a Support Shabbos for mothers designed to motivate
and inspire, day trips sponsored by donors, and a website to connect
volunteers and play host to a chat room.

All suggestions were welcome; all require money. Stressing that the goal
is to help these women maintain their dignity, Briendy implored that funds
are essential. "When we get a couch donated, it costs us money to pick up and
deliver," she explained. "Even though we get all the items for the gift boxes donated or at the cheapest rate possible, we still have to ship or deliver it.
Never, ever think giving money is not creative enough."

Indeed, making ends meet was an overriding concern for Frumie, Leah,
Devorah, Tanya, and Chaya Sarah, though they all presented nicely groomed
for Shabbos. "I'm nervous about how I'm going to pay for my daughter's college
education," said Tanya, who has a 12-year-old girl.

"I'm often faced with missing work because one of my kids is sick, said
Devorah. "I know it means less money but what should I do?"
But more than anything, it was the sense of aloneness that permeates
their situations, sometime logistically and sometimes emotionally.
"It may sound silly," said Devorah, "but if I go to a bar mitzvah or a
wedding and hire a babysitter to watch my kids, figuring out how to get that
babysitter home at the end of the night, is hard. My kids are too young to

"I often wonder if anyone misses me if I'm away for the weekend or even
thinks about me," said Leah. "So when I got the Purim box, opened it up and
saw that month's newsletter, goodies for all the kids and a scarf for me, I felt
special, I felt loved."

To volunteer, or for services, email mothersalone@aol.com or call (212)-

Press - 5 Towns Jewish Times, May 20 2004 - MARCH Right In

MARCH Right In
Paula L. Simmonds

Thursday night rolled around again way too fast. Malkie had just finished another grueling week at the office. And recently, she had perfected a routine that enabled her to just barely crawl through the week. But Thursday nights were what she dreaded the most — because in order to make Shabbos, she would have to spend yet another hour away from home and her children. Seven year-old Shloime desperately needed her to help him study for his parsha quiz, and little Dovid had been begging her to help him learn the months in the Jewish calendar. Even Raizy, Malkie’s oldest, who never complained and bravely shouldered as much of the “mommying” burden as she could, had been plaintively calling for her mom to come home, make supper for them and cuddle her, since she had experienced a difficult week in school.

Somehow, three years ago, things had gone terribly wrong in her marriage, and one day Malkie found herself alone with three small children. Now she had to be both mother and father, run a proper home, hold down a grueling job 40 hours a week and somehow keep all those balls up in the air with a smile on her face. But this week, her smile was frozen, as she tried to decide if she should pay the electric bill, the rent, or the tuition deposit for next year, which was due on Monday. And when she finally got to the store, so close to closing time, they were out of Challah. So now she would have to figure out how she could get some loaves in time for Shabbos, since she had to work tomorrow until just two hours before Shabbos, and the stores would be closed by the time she got home.

Malkie was bone tired, but she knew for her childrens’ sake that she had to reach deep down inside herself and pull yet more strength from an imaginary well-spring. She usually looked forward to seeing a few friends and acquaintances in shul on Shabbos morning — but frankly, this week she realized she was too exhausted to pull it all together. She allowed herself to wistfully imagine for just a moment what it would be like if she could rest and her boys had a kind, gentle father figure to take them to shul on Friday night and Shabbos morning, and perhaps spend some time learning in the afternoon with them to help them feel like all the other boys. Sometimes, it was just way too hard to keep up the smile. Because Malkie made such a huge effort to stay cheerful and upbeat, both in front of the children as well as in shul or on the street when she ran into neighbors, she somehow couldn’t let that veneer crack when she was down. She had worked too hard to maintain an air of well-being around her family to ever let people know the truth — that she was stretched to her limit — and if one more thing went wrong, she felt as if she would shatter into a million brittle pieces.

Battling a springtime rainstorm on the way home from grocery shopping, Malkie felt the wind and rain whipping cruelly at her face as she brought the bags into the house with her last ounce of strength. But suddenly, as she approached her doorstep, she spied a big white package sitting on her front doorstep, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers sticking out of the top. Malkie couldn’t imagine that anyone would send her anything, much less flowers, so she immediately assumed it must have been mistakenly dropped at her door. For a moment, she let herself imagine what it would be like to have real flowers on her Yom Tov table for Shavuos. But as she got closer and inspected the package, she saw that it indeed had her name on it. She let the children, who were by now bubbling over with excitement at the idea of a present for their dear Imma, tear open the box, and to their delight and surprise, they saw it was filled with small toys, books, a delectable looking boxed cheesecake and bags of cookies and sweets. Plus, there was a small white envelope near the bottom of the package, which yielded a coupon entitling the bearer to five free visits to the local optometrist for all the children in her family. She practically wept with surprise, relief and joy when she saw that, since the school nurse had recently told her that Shloime would need glasses, but her insurance didn’t cover the cost of the exam, much less the glasses themselves, and she hadn’t yet figured out how she could get him taken care of in that department.

Until that moment, she had been ready to utter the words, “I GIVE UP”, but suddenly her heart filled with joy that someone, from somewhere had taken note of her predicament and kindly found a way to plug some of the leaks in the lifeboat she precariously kept her little family afloat in. Malkie and the children were curious to know who had performed this miraculous act of kindness, but there were no real identifying marks to the package that she could make out, beyond the letters M.A.R.C.H., and she had no idea what they stood for — until she came across what seemed to be a newsletter at the very bottom of the package. The newsletter began, “Dear Tiereh Neshomah (precious soul), Welcome to the Chizzuk newsletter. We’re sending this to you because we want to let you know that Hashem is watching over you and will see you through your difficulties. And we want you to know that Klal Yisroel cares very deeply about you and your family. . .” Before Malkie could read any further, her eyes welled up with tears and blurred the rest of the words in front of her. It had been so long since anyone had really cared.

The beauty that touched Malkie’s lonely family has been brought about by a unique and groundbreaking organization called MARCH, which stands for Mothers Alone Raising Children. The phenomenon of single families, created either by divorce, abandonment or death of a spouse, has left just as huge a dent in the frum community as in the secular world. Yet somehow, in the religious community, perhaps because of the added stigma of a ‘broken family,’ single parent homes have been largely overlooked amidst the myriad worthwhile tzedakas and parlor meetings that raise money for this yeshiva or that organization. As a result, until now, you may not have heard of MARCH, because the modus operendi of the organization has been to implement its good works with quiet modesty, in order to preserve the dignity of the families under the sheltering care it provides.

MARCH, based in Brooklyn is a little miracle, with its somewhat deliberate air of mystery surrounding it. Only three people staff the organization full-time — all on a volunteer basis, all anonymously and not all from that location. These three amazing individuals, put in endless hours in order to provide recognition, chizuk, practical help and most of all dignity, to families that don’t fit the typical mold. They have been successful in choreographing incredible events, monthly packages, spot fundraising and vital communications, with the help of a network of erstwhile grassroots workers who pitch in as needed for specific projects. To date, over 450 single parent families, mostly headed by women raising their families alone, benefit from the ongoing support and chizuk provided by MARCH — but there is so much more to be done. As important as the thoughtful physical help may be, according to the women who are the recipients of MARCH’s unique brand of assistance, the organization delivers so much more than material benefit. The sensitivity, empathy and caring that is given over provides a monthly “hug” to these women and their families, enabling them to carry on in what would otherwise be crushing circumstances.

Gedolim including Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler and Rabbi Moshe Wolfson, Shlita have all become very passionate and enthusiastic about the importance of providing help in this tzniusdik manner to families in our communities. And Rabbi Heshie Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere has now lent his name and shul to introduce MARCH to the Five Towns for an upcoming Shabbos, which will take place some time in June. The group, which is affiliated with Aim Habonim Seimicha in Israel, has been growing by leaps and bounds as more and more families join the ranks of those helped in the New York metropolitan area.

Key volunteers have their different reasons for being involved. One of the founders, a man who donates his time as the de facto executive director, devotes almost of all his waking hours to MARCH, without remuneration. He speaks of the importance of providing a safety net for a largely forgotten segment of society. “This chesed is qualitatively different than helping kids with cancer or special needs. The problem we are attacking is largely an unrecognized one — yet the mothers who raise children on their own are real heroes. They are preserving and bringing along the next generation of yiddishe neshomas, and we see our role as one of helping them to accomplish this goal with dignity.”

“A lot of the women we help are the working poor – they are not eligible for public assistance, yet they lack the financial resources to make ends meet. They fall right in between those that qualify for government aid and those that just scrape by. That’s why we’re trying to help them with all these different services. One of the things we started recently is a furniture exchange. We thought, it’s such a great feeling to have a beautiful couch in the house, and so many single mothers can’t afford this basic item. With so many necessities that they can’t cover, extra things such as a decent piece of furniture that could uplift the spirit tend to fall by the wayside. When we can, around the Yomim Tovim, we send a small gift of jewelry to the mother that has been donated. We want the mother to feel that she is worthwhile, so she can approach life with self-confidence. When somebody recognizes that a single mother is doing an amazing job, then her ability to give to her children grows. We recognize that life for so many in this situation simply drains and drags at them, sapping their resources. But when a single mother feels worthwhile, and knows that someone notices and cares for her family, it increases her own capacity to give a feeling of self-worth over to her children. So our main focus is to uplift and enhance the dignity of the mothers, in the hopes that we are saving future generations of children from experiencing the devastating effects of growing up isolated and damaged from society’s neglect of a broken family.”

Another volunteer spoke movingly of her reasons for becoming involved in MARCH. She heard of the organization through a friend, and became active around the time that her own daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During a heart-breaking period of her own life, she and her husband promised themselves that if their daughter improved, they would truly dedicate themselves to this chesed, and Baruch Hashem, they have done just that. Since then, she has been a one-woman power-house coordinating amazing events like the recent Chanukah Chagiga, complete with a free Chinese auction (so everyone could go home a winner), optional shadchanim services, and gifts. The event was held at a beautiful undisclosed location for over 200 mothers. After the party, one mother wrote in anonymously, “Thank you so much for all the support and encouragement you have given me … In particular, I ‘d like to thank you for the beautiful Chanukah party you planned for us. When I didn’t really feel like going, I knew I had to get out of the house and go. I pushed myself and did not regret it for a minute. When I entered the hall, I could not believe what I saw! It was decorated so beautifully and with such obvious effort, planning and class, I literally thought I was in the wrong place! I asked someone what was going on in there — I thought the party for single mothers must be in another part of the hall. It made me feel so special to know that you had planned such a beautiful party just for us! I know it’s hard to imagine, but some of us have a hard time managing basic things that most people don’t think twice about. In the affluent society we live in, who would imagine that some of us have to think ten times before taking the clothes to the cleaners or getting our shoes fixed …”

Another mother wrote in to say, “I really don’t know if I can put into words how I feel about the support you have given me over the past year and a half. Somehow, your envelope always seems to come when I’m at my lowest. It’s astounding how uplifting a yellow envelope can be on a bleak day. It’s not the money you sent me alone, although it definitely helps, it’s not even the articles of inspiration. It’s the thought that’s behind the envelope. The boxes that come before the Yomim Tovim seem to be packed with such care …”

In fact, hundreds of these types of letters have poured into MARCH’s Post Office box in the past few years. The letters, which overflow with genuine gratitude, bear testimony to the amazing work the organization is accomplishing. “Being single and living alone, I feel my world caving in on me most of the time. And then, once a month, someone sends me a piece of their heart and shows that they care.” Another writes, “I have recently taken into my basement a divorced mother with two young boys. She is recovering from surgery and has been left penniless. She came to my house a week ago and has been living on a mattress in my basement, with the boys on cots. She literally has no money to live day by day due to her poor health. No one has offered to take her boys to shul or anything. The pain is so deep and I pray for Hashem to open our eyes. Maybe this is the time for people to put down a sefer and do a chesed — a different type of chesed shel emes (where no reward is expected.) All you can do for this mother will be appreciated. Thanks for all your chizuk and most of all for listening.”

It seems that MARCH’s entry into the Five Towns may be long overdue, and the services they provide will be a welcome relief to many families who truly suffer silently under these difficult circumstances. Allen Ganz, local businessman and past President of the Young Israel of Woodmere is largely responsible for the inroads MARCH has made into the Five Towns community recently. The MARCH connection with Ganz was fortuitously made early this past Spring, when he met one of the MARCH founders, a business leader of a Metropolitan area company, at the Chai Lifeline national dinner. Ganz, a member of Chai Lifeline’s national Board (as well as numerous other local cheseds) has been instrumental in moving mountains for that organization. During the dinner, the two got to talking, and the MARCH founder asked Ganz for advice on taking the fledgling organization to the next level.

Ganz reports that “…since I was involved with Chai Lifeline and other charities, he asked me how you get the message across to the people in a community about this very different kind of chesed. I told him I thought it was a worthwhile tzedaka that people need to know about, so I arranged a meeting with Rabbi Billet, who is in the forefront of charity work here in the Five Towns and national scene. Rabbi Billet met with them and he agreed to be of help, offering the shul to introduce this tzedaka to our community.” Since becoming involved, Ganz himself has been instrumental in arranging a whole new unique range of services for the organization including free dental care and optometry, generously provided by local practitioners.

What if, after reading all this, you’re moved and find that you want to help? One way people can get involved is by referring women to MARCH. Referrals should be made with great discretion, so as to preserve the dignity of the family. A concerned party can send a family’s contact information to the address provided below, and an application will be sent out to the family. The organization has recently sadly had to stop mailing out the small monthly checks for a while, since they ran out of funds. So sending your check in, also to the address below, will be of enormous assistance, and will allow MARCH to reinstate this important part of the program. But there is more that neighbors, friends and families can do. “Using our powers of observation and raising our level of awareness to become more conscious of those with less obvious needs around us is key,” said Rabbi Billet. “MARCH has a good and unique mission. There are several organizations based in the Five Towns that are special, and what they all have in common is they address themselves to populations that have previously been overlooked. Single parents are a group of people in our community that have certain unique circumstances. These people live under tremendous strain and pressure between financial and parental responsibilities as they try to get on with some quality of life — all the while that they remain single. I think that’s a very special need and I think it’s being addressed uniquely by MARCH.”

Rabbi Billet also notes that, “Many other kinds of people can provide services to this population that others take for granted. Physicians and chiropractors can offer services either pro bono or at a discounted rate. An attorney can offer free legal services and an accountant can offer to help prepare a tax return. There are now dentists within our community that have begun providing free services to these families. A grocery store or local shops can provide coupons for practical needs such as dry cleaning and shoe repair. Basic things that so many take for granted can make a real difference. The local yeshivas can apportion chesed hours to single parent families, giving local teens an opportunity to help out with babysitting or homework.”

When asked how one can help a single parent who may be too embarrassed to come forward and ask for assistance, Rabbi Billet says, “ Sometimes it’s a two way street. Things have to be called attention to. I guess if a person is too embarrassed to come forward, then sensitizing people in the community will help them become more aware. The greater responsibility lies with the providers rather than the beneficiaries. Making people feel comfortable at both ends is key. The insensitivity of those who don’t realize can be largely cured by educating people.”

But there is a sociological reality that speaking up in this situation is difficult. There are issues of Tzinua for a woman, and because there exists a key Jewish teaching from Dovid Ha Melech in Tehillim 45:14, “Kol Kevoda Bat Melech Penima,” (the glory of a daughter of Israel lies within her) — many women find it especially difficult to go outside of themselves and be vocal in asking for help, even if they desperately need it. Rabbi Billet points out, “There is also the issue of a woman already feeling the burden of compromised circumstances that unfortunately still has some social stigma attached to it. Her natural inclination to hide the problem as she strives to put her best foot forward in a community — often for her children’s future sake — paradoxically perpetuates the situation. If a woman is taught her entire life that it is not becoming of a traditional Jewish woman to be forward, then we have to reeducate people in certain circumstances that it is not only permissible, but also totally appropriate for a woman to speak out and let others know of the needs of her family. We all have to be educated. I’m still learning myself. It is a great privilege to be able to have your eyes opened and have the ability to say, ‘Where have I been for all this time?’ We have an opportunity to make better people of ourselves by opening our eyes to what is going on.”

One final quote from a grateful mother, “To all of you out there at MARCH, I want you to know that there is no greater feeling in the world, than to know that someone cares. Whoever you are, Hashem should fulfill all your needs and together may we be zocheh to bias hamoshiach very soon.”

If you wish to become involved, referrals and checks can be sent to:
MARCH - Mothers Alone Raising Children
1214 Broadway Room 406
New York, NY 10001
Tel - 212-696-5978
Email: MothersAlone@aol.com

Press - Chesed Magazine, Winter 2004, Cover Story - A Silent Cry

How life had unraveled. From starry-eyed kallah to busy young mother to embattled wife to divorcee. Money was tight. So tight that a simple car repair set off a desperate round of phone calls in search of a loan. Time was even tighter. Back in the workforce full time, dropping a half-asleep toddler off at day care at 7 a.m., returning home at 6 p.m. to supper, homework and laundry, exhaustion had become the status quo.

But the sharpest pain came from the look she fleetingly perceived on her children’s faces when she finally had time to pay attention. They so desperately needed her warmth. She tried to overcome the fatigue that weighed down her heart and give them the emotional nourishment they craved. Often she succeeded, but sometimes, the struggle was too great.

“I’m tired. I need to rest,” she’d tell them, and then go into her room, lie down and cry.

One evening in December, arriving home with toddler in tow, she noticed a large box sitting in front of her door.

“It must be a misdelivery,” she thought. “Probably more Land’s End stuff for the Weissman children. I wonder what it’s like to be able to buy new things for your children.”

She was startled to see that the box was addressed to her. She brought it inside and was immediately mobbed by the other three children. “What’s that, Mommy? Who sent it? Is it a present?”

She cut through the packing tape to reveal the contents of the package. Inside was a wonderful selection of Chanukah toys and candy. Nestled among the items was a small box, which she opened slowly. Within it was a pair of delicate sterling silver earrings for her – a lovely yom tov gift of jewelry like her husband used to buy her so long ago.

As the children tore through the bounty with delight, acting like carefree, happy children for the first time in a long time, she began reading the newsletter that had come inside the package. “Tiereh Neshoma (Precious Soul) the newsletter began…and it went on, telling her how wonderful she was, how much Hashem loved her, what a heroic job she was doing raising her children alone, giving them all she had to give of herself.

And to top it all off, the delivery contained a check – just what she needed to cover the extra expenses of making a family get together for Chanukah . Up until that moment, she thought that her tight finances would mean she couldn’t host the party this year – a development that would have been terribly disappointing to her children. So much had changed for them; she dearly hoped not to take this away from them as well. And now she didn’t have to.

For the first time since her divorce nine months earlier, she felt that someone, somewhere understood her struggle. The tears that filled her eyes this time did not spring from a well of despair. They were tears of gratitude. Tears of joy.


An organization called MARCH (Mothers Alone Raising Children) brings this kind of
profound comfort to more than 430 women across the country who are raising children alone as a result of divorce or the husband’s death. The organization is not the product of social workers or psychologists. It was inspired by a man who, following his own divorce, found himself dating divorced women. The emotional pain and financial hardship he encountered in their lives touched him. He began secretly paying one woman’s grocery bills. Then another one’s, and then another one’s as well.

He revealed to his friend the desperation and despair he was finding right there in their own community. So many Jewish mothers who managed to walk out the door looking “put together” with smiles on their faces were hiding lives of sadness and struggle. They deserved better from the community as they poured all their strength into maintaining their households and raising happy, well adjusted children.

“This is a crisis people don’t know about,” he says. “People don’t understand the effect that a divorce or death of a husband has on a family. From the outside, after awhile, it looks like life is just going on, and people go back to their own lives.’

It was out of this crisis that MARCH was born. It has never been formalized much beyond the structure it had in its inception. Wives, brothers, sisters and friends have gotten involved, providing the manpower to pack the packages, produce the newsletter and handle the mailing and deliveries. Fundraising is a very informal affair, depending largely on word of mouth advertising and the generosity of caring people. The people who run MARCH call themselves a “committee.”

Though endorsed by gedolim such as Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Malkiel Kotler and Rabbi Avrohom Wolfson, Shlita, MARCH fervently refuses to publicize the names of this “committee.’ The air of mystery was born of necessity. Many of the women MARCH helped in the beginning were the committee members’ acquaintances and neighbors; they would have been humiliated to accept help from people they knew. And even now, when the list numbers in the hundreds, anonymity provides vital protection for the families’ dignity. The givers, too, benefit by keeping their chesed under wraps. Giving anonymously, the Torah teaches, is the highest form of giving.

MARCH’s basic function is to deliver a monthly stipend and newsletter to the women on its list. Thoughtful extras are sent for Yomim Tovim and seasonal needs. A piece of jewelry for the mother is an especially eloquent expression of MARCH’s loving care. But some gifts are pragmatic. For instance, prior to the summer, families received calling cards. This enabled them to keep in touch with children in summer camp without having to count every minute and every penny. They receive packages for Purim, Pesach and Chanukah as well.

The money is vitally important to women who have become their family’s breadwinners. Even those who are essentially meeting expenses have little or no cushion. The monthly stipend gives them some leeway, some money they can count on to reduce the stress of living on the edge.

But equally, if not more important, is the newsletter, named simply, “Chizzuk Newsletter.” Hundreds of recipients have sent letters to MARCH’s post office box showering the group’s organizers with words of gratitude for the comfort and inspiration they are providing.

“Thank you for reminding me, affirming how wonderful I am as a mother – a mother alone. I really need that as a reminder,” says one letter.

“…I just came back from court and it was Taanis Esther. Needless to say, the court system is draining and dragging, and when I came home, there was a Shalach Manos. package for me. It uplifted my spirit so much, I started to cry…I truly do thank you again and again from the bottom of my heart…”

“You are Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s messengers of “Somaich Noflim,” picking me up and enveloping me in a warm glow,” says another.

“Your monthly financial help and caring newsletter have made such a difference to me. Your Ahavas Yisroel is truly a balm that heals me,” writes another grateful recipient.


It seems almost simplistic to believe that by telling people “You’re doing great. You’re a hero. Hashem loves you so much and He’s with you all the time,” one can actually part the heavy clouds that often envelop these women’s spirits. If it were that simple, one would think, everyone would tell their widowed or divorced neighbor these things.

And that’s what MARCH’s organizers want to see happen. The problems they are addressing are far bigger than any one group can handle. First of all, one group cannot possibly know about every woman who could benefit from its services. And even if they did know, they would not have the capacity to help them all. Yet most people know of women in their own neighborhoods, schools or shuls who are raising their children alone.

One way people can help is by referring women to MARCH. Two years ago, MARCH went public with an ad in the Jewish Press. It reached out to women who were alone with children, inviting them to call or write. One hundred women responded. Since then, through word of mouth, the organization has taken on from 30 to 50 new mothers a month.

What else can friends and neighbors do? “We all need to be aware,” says the MARCH founder. “Offer to take the children to shul. Invite the family for Shabbos. Dance with the boys on Simchas Torah. Let the families know that they’re not isolated.’

On the financial end, the need is great and growing. “We’ve had situations where a woman was having to choose between having her kids thrown out of yeshivah or having her family thrown out of their apartment. We’ve stepped into some of these situations and been able to work them out.”


In the case of divorce, most people believe that child support and alimony eliminate the kind of financial disasters MARCH often sees. But for various reasons – sometimes a simple lack of sufficient income to support both the father’s and mother’s households, sometimes lingering issues between the ex-spouses – a post-divorce household is often teetering at the edge of a financial abyss.

A letter from one mother offers a picture of what life can become for some families: “I am writing to request a dresser for my children. They don’t have furniture except for beds, so their clothes are in plastic bags. The dresser they had was given to us many years ago, and has completely fallen apart. Its broken drawers are useless and I cannot afford another. Besides this, I have no vacuum cleaner. Neighbors seem annoyed if I borrow theirs too often. My couch is also all ripped up from use and age. The most important are dressers and a vacuum cleaner, so that my little apartment can be clean. Thank you and G-d bless you.”

“We don’t get into politics,” says the MARCH spokesman. “We don’t get into finding fault. Our mission is just to help families who need help.”

There are, in fact, a few men caring for children alone who are also on the MARCH mailing list. One might think that men would have just as tough a time adjusting to the parenting role as women have adjusting to their new roles. However, the financial strain is far more significant for women, and therefore, their coping strategies are much more limited.

“Still, there are some men out there who are struggling to raise their kids, and we’re happy to help them too,” says the MARCH founder.

As MARCH grows, the variety of plights it witnesses and handles grows as well. Obviously, one group of volunteers can’t solve all problems. It refers women to existing chesed and social service organizations where appropriate, and it hopes to hire its own social worker as well. It runs a furniture exchange to help mothers acquire needed items, and it also has a “Shabbos exchange” to arrange hospitality for MARCH families.

The bottom line for MARCH is to uplift the spirits of single mothers, and by extension, their children. Toward that goal, it has sponsored a few social gatherings where women can get together and enjoy themselves – no stress, no expense. The response to this year’s Chanukah gathering caught the organizers by surprise.

“We had expected 150 women,” said one organizer. “More than 250 came. We arranged car rides from various parts of New Jersey, and provided a van to bring in 16 mothers from Monroe. Others came from Monsey, Williamsburg, Far Rockaway, Five Towns, They came from far and wide. We had mothers coming from upstate New York and all over the tri-state area.”

The guests were treated to an elegant hot and cold buffet at Bais Brocha Stolin hall in Boro Park. They received a total of $13,000 worth of gifts donated by businesses and individuals. Miriam Swerdlov, a highly popular speaker, presented a lecture full of humor, warmth and inspiration. Estie Lebovic provided musical entertainment. Shadchanim were on hand to meet interested women. But most of all, the women were there for each other.

One volunteer who serves as MARCH’s events coordinator described the scene:
"It was astounding to see over 250 Jewish mothers, who have so many overwhelming problems, spending a night smiling and laughing. They seemed transformed into a group of carefree women enjoying a delightful Chanukah party. I was told over and over how they couldn't remember the last time they had so much fun, and how they felt fully accepted as they met new friends who understood what they were going through. The most frequent comments I got were profuse thank yous, followed by, ‘When are you making the next event? I can't wait!’”

MARCH’s future plans include establishing a big brother program. This could be a lifeline for boys who don’t have a father available to help them review their learning. Most women have very little exposure to Talmudic learning and are therefore unable to help their sons with homework once they reach fifth or sixth grade, when Talmud becomes the main subject. Without that consistent review, the children can easily fall behind; their class performance and self-esteem suffer. Big brothers can also bring boys to father-son learning programs that many shuls and yeshivos sponsor.

Key to every aspect of MARCH’ s work is its ardent protection of the women’s dignity. Mailings all emanate from a post office box, and correspondence from the women goes back to the same box. “If people don’t know who’s helping them, it’s easier for them to accept the help,” says the founder. “Our number-one concern is the dignity of the mothers.”

And through every package, every check and every line of the Chizzuk Newsletter, this devotion shows. MARCH acknowledges that at least for now, these mothers are dealing with pain. It doesn’t pretend that it can make the pain go away. As one issue of Chizzuk told its “Tiereh Neshomas,” “Hashem didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way.”

For 430 mothers raising their children alone, MARCH is that strength, comfort and light.

Do It Yourself Guide
On Your Own
- Invite families without fathers for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals
- Learn with their children or help them with homework
- Include them in shul and community events
- Dance with the boys at simchas and on Simchas Torah
- Invite children to your house to give the mother a break
- If you deal in merchandise, donate a substantial quantity of an item that would be a suitable addition to a MARCH gift package.
Become an entrepreneur
- Establish a shul Shabbos hospitality system
- Establish a gemach for household needs
Support MARCH with a tax deductible contribution sent to
1214 Broadway, Room 406, New York, NY 10001

To date, MARCH has distributed the following:

1. 130,000 pages of Chizzuk to inspire, uplift, and bring hope.

2. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct financial aid and emergency financial

3. 7000 packages for Rosh Hashanah, Succos, Chanukah, Purim, Pesach, and Shavuos.

4. 2,400 pounds of Matzah for Pesach.

5. 2,900 Music CD's and Torah Tapes.

6. 3,300 Seforim and inspirational books.

7. 4,550 pieces of jewelry and silver items to enhance Yom Tov.

8. 28,800 Toys to over 1,500 children.

Posted by Hello

Letters from Mothers - Dec 25 2003 Chanuka Event

“Dear M.A.R.C.H.

Thank you so much for all the support and encouragement you have given me for the past few years. I appreciate it so much. In particular, I’d like to thank you for the beautiful Chanukah party you planned for us. When I didn’t really feel like going, I knew I had to get out of the house and go. I really pushed myself and I did not regret it for a minute.

When I entered the hall, I could not believe what I saw! It was decorated so beautifully, and with obvious effort and much planning and class, that I literally thought I was in the wrong place! I asked someone what was going on in there? I thought the party for single mothers must be in another part of the hall! It made me feel so special to know that you had planned such a beautiful party just for us!

I know it’s hard to imagine, but some of us have a hard time managing basic things that most people don’t think twice about. In the affluent society we live in, who would imagine that some of us have to think ten times before taking clothes to the cleaners or getting our shoes fixed. (If I’m able, I usually pay for them when I drop them off because I never know if I’ll have the money when it’s time to pick them up).

Due to my financial situation, you can’t imagine how thrilling it was for me to win not one but two things at the Chinese Auction! (I considered not taking one of the gifts because I felt it would be better if I let someone who hadn’t won anything get it. I was not strong enough to do it, though). Both items were things I really needed but could not afford to buy. When I brought home the prizes my children were so excited! I didn’t stop smiling for days after! It made us feel so lucky!

Thanks to you, I can no longer say that I never win anything!

I’m sure that it’s the efforts of people like you and all the volunteers and donators, that bring us closer to the coming of Moshiach. May G-D bless you all and give you the strength to continue the wonderful things you do!

You can’t imagine what an impact you have on people like me!

With Heartfelt Gratitude!”
— Deborah N.

Letters from Mothers - The pain is so deep and unbelievably inspiring

“To whom it may concern:

It was so nice Erev Shabbos Chanukah for your box to come filled with nice things for Chanukah. I feel so alone right now. The same year my husband passed away, a few years ago, I had to deal with other major losses as well. Boruch Hashem I was able to keep my house…

…I have recently taken into my basement a divorced mother with 3 young girls. She is recovering from major surgery and was left penniless. She came to my house 1 1/2 weeks ago and she's been by me since - living in my basement on a mattress and her three girls on cots on the floor. She literally has no money to live day by day. She's looking for a job but due to her health can't work full time. I myself am widowed for 7 years and have 5 kids who have also had enough chaos in their lives.

…No one has offered to take them to shul, to play with them or anything. The pain is so deep and I pray for Hashem to open our eyes. Maybe this is the time for people to put down a sefer and do a chesed - a different type of chesed shel emes.

 Posted by Hello
…This mother has suffered enough with divorce and illness - she doesn’t belong in a basement on a mattress. I did buy more blankets and I have a heater but I'm afraid to leave it on all night - fire safety, so I only leave it on for a few hours before bedtime. When the temperature dips into the 20's outside then it's freezing in the basement.
All you can do for her will be appreciated. Thanks for all you do and most of all for listening. Thanks for the chizuk. We need it. She'll send out her application today to you with references.”
— Chavi N.

Editors note* : Boruch Hashem with the help from some very generous people we were able to find for this mother and her three young children an apartment, have her first year rent covered, and buy her all the household items she might need.

“Dear MARCH,
Thank you so much for your monthly chizzuk newsletter. It is just so unbelievably inspiring. I just can’t even begin to believe that someone is really actually there for me month after month sending me these really good and lovely chizzuk letters and packages. This Chanukah package was really a hit, filled with so much love and goodies. May Hashem bless you with all the good to you and to your families. May you see much nachas from your children and your family. I love you all. Thank you and a freilichen Chanukah!”
— Shani S.

“(From the Director of a social services agency),
Wishing you and your families a freilichen Chanukah. You have no idea how much your work means to so many. Continued hatzlocha!”

Letters from Mothers - Caring, A Balm, Persevere and Persist, and Scraping Bottom

Dear M.A.R.C.H.
I can’t express with words nor by writing, the great feeling and the profound difference your chizuk letters and of course your beautiful gift and last but not least the check, that came in so handy just in time when I so desperately needed to take care of some important errands. The thought and feeling of someone caring for me out there after going through a very difficult life, is indescribable. …May G-d bless you with much strength to enlighten the hearts of those who so desperately need you.” — Miriam L.

Dear Committee,
…Your monthly financial help and caring newsletters have made such a difference to me. Your Ahavas Yisroel is truly a balm and heals me. May Hashem reward all of you with many blessings!!!” — Goldie K.

To the dedicated people working for Mothers Alone Raising Children:
A few months ago, I mailed in a paper with just my name and my son’s name and age, my address and the names and phone numbers of two references. I did not expect to be helped so quickly and fully. When I state fully, I do not only refer to the financial assistance you so graciously provide for my son and myself. I am also extremely grateful for the Chizuk and Hashpa’ah Tovah that always comes with the check, and like the check, always comes when I need it the most. I have saved every Chizuk newsletter I have received from you and constantly read them when I feel the need for a gentle pick-me-up, for reassurance that someone out there cares about me without knowing who I am or where I’m coming from. I read them to be encouraged to persevere and persist in my being a full time single mother and a full time teacher. The successes I have are largely due to the Chizuk and care, which come monthly from the Mothers Alone Raising Children FINANCIAL, SPIRTUAL AND EMOTIONAL FUND. Thank you so very much.”
— Yocheved S.

To Dear Friends and Supporters (Even though you don’t know me):
Although my time is severely limited and my health is not great, it is for these reasons and not chas vesholom for lack of Hakoras Hatov (thanks and appreciation) to all of you unnamed malachim (angels) – yes indeed you people behind MARCH can be no less for the outstanding, kind and compassionate work you do. …Until I saw your ad in the Jewish Press I was truly scraping bottom; financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. From the first newsletter and enclosed check I cried because someone had finally reached out and shown my three children and me, that there are truly good Jewish people who care about us and have not forgotten us. …Once again, whoever you are, please hug your children a little closer tonight when you tuck them in, so that they can appreciate how special you are. Whether you are male or female make sure you tell your spouse that one very lonely, humiliated, and tired single mother thinks you are a special human being, and has Hakoras Hatov for the untold chesed that you do.” — Esther T.

Letters from Mothers - Checks, Self-reliant, and Couch

Thank you sooo much for the checks you send us! Every little bit helps us get by. With deepest love and appreciation!”

To Whom It May Concern:
I’m not sure how you got my name in the first place – and at first I couldn’t bring myself to cash your checks – I was too proud. I always prided myself on being strong, independent and self-reliant but at a certain point, I really had no other choice but to accept your generous help. Your Chizuk newsletter brings tears to my eyes each and every time. It helps make things a little easier to swallow and to see that people really do understand the difficulties. It really is inspiring to read. Thank you so much for all your help.”

THANK YOU! You people have got no idea to what extend your organization has influenced my life. From the monthly allocations to the gift boxes and newsletters filled with love and devotion, you‘ve really contributed to the happiness in our home. Your newsletter (especially the first page) has never failed to leave me with some piece of new insight, hope, and the hang-in-there — Hashem-has-got-some-good-messengers-for-you-feeling. The Yom Tov packages - I wish you’d see my children’s glowing faces every time we receive these white gift boxes. They come running into the home telling me that “this company that always sends us presents has yet once again done so.” They then sit down on the floor and start sorting these treasures feeling like the luckiest kids on earth. During these moments, I schep nachas, not only from my children, but also from Hashem’s children - the people at MARCH.

About this beautiful brand new couch that was delivered this past Erev Pesach to our home, all I can say is THANK YOU! I am well aware of the hard work you put it for this to happen. When I wrote to you last year that I would appreciate a couch, I did not dream of getting a brand new one. Neither did I expect it to serve as a bed as well. I was thrilled to receive this new piece of furniture. We’ve already had tremendous use out of it this past Pesach, as we had guest staying with us and there were enough beds available for everyone. Also, every Friday night we sit down on the couch and enjoy family time together. I would also like to thank you for the way this procedure was coordinated. This nice woman who called to discuss the delivery date made me feel so good. The volunteers who delivered it would not leave until everything was set up the right way. There are not very many organizations who in addition to putting in so much effort providing services are also extremely focused at leaving their recipient’s feelings and dignity intact. Once again, thank you for being there for me and for all good things you have done for my family.”

A letter from a woman that we published in the Newsletter

(The following letters were sent to MARCH. The woman who wrote these letters gave us special permission to print them in the newsletter because she wanted to share her story. If you would like to share an inspirational experience of your own, please specify that your letter is for the Newsletter. No names will be printed. Enjoy!)

December 4, 2002
“Dear Wonderful Yiddishe Hearts:

I walked into my house yesterday to find another court order. I was much too sad to even feel devastated. What on earth does my husband want from me? Why can’t I just receive my get and be over with him?

I did not attend any parties this year. I was too embarrassed. This is what you get for taking upon yourself to learn Shmiras Haloshon every night. That people say the worst rumors about you. It is amazing how the rumors never cease to be created. And I hold my tongue because it is Loshon Horah.

In this horrid mood, I noticed a large white box in the hallway. It couldn’t be for me. Probably my neighbor receiving another catalogue order. She’s got a husband and money. I don’t envy her. In fact, I’m happy that people still smile these days. I don’t know why I even looked at the box to see what it is, but it was addressed to me. Who would send me such a box and what could be in there? I noticed the happy looking Chanuka stickers on the box. So someone wants to play the fool with me. No problem, I can handle anything by now.

Cautiously I started opening the box and wait! A huge box full of gifts and nosh and prizes! And I got a menorah too. Who cares if the menorah is for kids? I got to light my own menorah in my own home. No running to people and then eating something in their house to make it permissible for them to light for me. Thanks so much for the little chart with the brochos on it. It was the best part of the box. And I must say your newsletters really make me smile. I was so excited. I can’t remember the last time going to sleep without crying. Last night I did. I fell asleep like an angel and woke up refreshed for a change.

“Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day
that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

To all of you out there at MARCH I want you to know that there is no greater feeling in the world than to know that someone cares. Being single and living alone I feel my world caving in on me most of the time. And then once a month someone sends me a piece of their heart and shows that they care. Whoever you are, Hashem should fulfill all your needs and together may we Zocheh to Bias HaMoshiach very soon.

Sincerely yours,

Half a Neshomah seeking its REAL other half ”

(When we initially received the above letter last year we were moved beyond words. We wanted to reach out and respond and let her know how much her strength and words simultaneously broke our hearts and greatly inspired us. Unfortunately, the letter was sent anonymously, with no return address. But her words lingered with us. Then a year later, we received the following letter.)

December 18, 2003
“Dear Wonderful Yiddishe Hearts,

It is now 12 months after my initial letter dated December 4, 2002. In that letter, I was too shy to identify myself, but I felt the need to let you know what joy you gave a broken soul. That letter was signed, “Half a Neshomah seeking it’s REAL other half.”

At that time I don’t think I was interested in the other half. I was a lost, broken soul living alone — alone in my apartment and alone in my sorrow and pain. I remember the excitement each month when I got your newsletter and especially your gift boxes. I would call my friend every month and ask her if I should cancel your newsletters because I had no children and didn’t feel I deserved it. I would tell my friend that she has a little girl to love and to hug and a reason to live, but I had none. In the summer, at a party, I won six porcelain dolls. My friends would play the game that I now had six little girls so I deserved to be enrolled in MARCH. It was only a game, but I would talk to these dolls because I had no one else in my empty apartment.

Dear friends at MARCH, my story is long, but I won’t burden you to read it. Now 12 months later, I owe you a big thank you. Now it is time to take me off your mailing list.


Now I have a request. Please don’t say no. Please understand me. I want to give others what you gave me. I want others to have the WANT to continue like you gave me that WANT. Please allow me to join your group in reaching out to others who feel like I felt. Please allow me to volunteer for your organization.

Thanks again for everything you’ve done. Someone asked me how I had the courage to get married a third time. I answered, “I only got married ONCE. I had a mock wedding, I had a major rehearsal, but married, I got only once.” Thanks for the chizuk and courage, and I actually did it!

With a heart full of thanks…”

(When we received this second letter we were overjoyed! What an amazing turn around! What remarkable strength to endure the despair and darkness. What astonishing courage to climb and overcome to happiness and light. A Hartziga Mazel Tov to this very special woman. We also would like to wish Mazel Tov to the numerous women who have recently gotten engaged or married. May you truly be surrounded with happiness, contentment and a Bais Neman B’Yisroel!)

* * *

Please know, that whatever situation we currently find ourselves in, no matter how daunting the road ahead may appear, things can turn around so quickly! Whether it’s a week, a month or a year, we can find ourselves surrounded by true Simcha and happiness! Teshuas Hashem truly is Keheref Ayin! A Chag Kosher Va’someach!

Until next time, have a wonderfully fantastic month of anticipating and creating happiness!

The Committee

“Believe it is possible to solve your problem.
Tremendous things happen to the believer.
So believe the answer will come.
It will.”

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

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Mother and daughter receiving flowers from MARCH

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Our weekly advice column in The Jewish Press

Written by Rabbi M. Gary Neuman author of "Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce"
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