Sheina's ponderings:

Why do I look different?
Why can't I talk?
Why do I walk funny?
Why do I need help eating?
Why don't I remember to use the bathroom?
Why can't I dress myself?
Why do I need ointment in my eyes every night?
Why do I have to wear this uncomfortable body brace?
Why do I have special shoes?
Why do I go to a special school?
Why don't the neighbors play with me?

Am I special?

I know I have special friends.
They buy me slurpees.
They come to my house and play with me.
They buy me strawberries because I like them so.
They talk to me even if I don't respond.
I spend my Sundays at the "Friendship Circle."
I eagerly go to the "The Living Room" - where we play and play some more.
"Chai Lifeline" invites me to their parties and gives me treats.

I think I'm special.
Am I?

What is special? And who really is special?

Why would you give up your Sunday mornings to sing and dance with her?I did not sign up for a "special" child. I did not have a choice. And had G‑d asked me what I would prefer, I would probably not have chosen it either. If He was looking for volunteers, I still don't think I would have enlisted for this. Yet, G‑d, the Master Planner, in His infinite wisdom, decided that giving me a special needs child was just the (best) thing I needed. Close to fourteen years ago, He entrusted me with Sheina, our special daughter. She was given to me. And I kept her.

I love her. I care for her. She is mine. They call her "special." But I call you, my dear volunteers, special. You are the ones who are extraordinary, unique, rare, different and so wonderful. You are the ones with special souls. You are the ones who sign up for this. You are the ones who enlist for this. Why? Why would you choose to spend your summer vacation with my child, my special needs child?! Why would you give up your Sunday mornings to sing and dance with her? You had a world of opportunities open for you. To enjoy yourselves as you please. And what did you decide to do? To volunteer yourself, for Sheina and children like her. I am impressed. I am in wonderment.

I observe you guys. How could I not? Full of life, full of love, full of kindness. You cater to each child. You are fully focused to give them the best time ever. My heart swells when I watch you. I am humbled by your dedication, your devotion.

All year, my Sheina goes to a special day class in a public school. She is not happy to go. And every morning when I drop her off, my heart tweaks. Now I delight in seeing how happy she is to go to Etta Israel Gindi Family Camp in the summer or Friendship Circle in the winter. Every morning she signs, "camp." On Shabbat and Sundays, too. And in the winter, she signs Friendship Circle, practically every day. You, her volunteers, follow her around. You are solely there to make sure she has a good time. You are brave to take her on trips I would never bother with. She gets to pray. Hear Jewish songs. And she can eat whatever anyone else is eating. She is one of the gang. She is part of something. She finally belongs.

I salute you all - Volunteers and Staff of Special Needs Programs.

Thank you, G‑d, for creating special souls.