Dina Greenbaum has worked as a case manager for Chai Lifeline, a Jewish organization dedicated to providing aid and care to families with children experiencing serious illness, for 10 years. But the Canadian native has finally come stateside to be part of the team at Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic, marking the beginning of a new chapter in her history of working with the charity.
“Case managers play a critical role, serving as the interface between Chai Lifeline and our families, and ensuring that all of their needs are met,” said Racheli Daniel, director of Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic. “We are delighted to have Dina join our team. She is an extraordinary case manager whose years of experience will allow her to effectively and sensitively support our local families.”
The 33-year-old, who now lives in Baltimore with her husband and their daughter, and attends Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim in Pikesville, has been volunteering and working with Chai Lifeline since she was a college student.
Greenbaum was raised in an Orthodox home and attended several Jewish schools throughout her life. She started volunteering at Chai Lifeline when she was fresh out of high school.
“I had some free time,” she recalled. “And I enjoyed spending it volunteering with the children at Chai Lifeline.”
Before she started volunteering, Greenbaum had no prior experience with being a case manager. She was teaching at a Jewish school in Toronto while doing her work for the city’s local Chai Lifeline branch. Greenbaum remembers it as being a small organization with less than 100 families involved when she first joined, but noted how it flourished over the years as she became more involved as well.
“I had the opportunity to grow with the organization,” said Greenbaum, “and watch it develop, which was incredible.”
While at Chai Lifeline Toronto, she helped create a number of programs, such as its after-school program Shining Stars, which she helped run, and more specialized programs for different age groups. Her work as a case manager saw her meeting with families of sick children, helping to meet their needs and setting them up with other volunteers to assist them further.
‘Differences in the system’
She put her work with Chai Lifeline on hold when she met her husband, who is originally from New York. Much of her time then was spent applying for U.S. citizenship, in addition to moving and settling down in Baltimore. She and her husband picked the city because they wanted to live somewhere with “a more out-of-town feel” than New York City, as she described.
When she started working at Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic in November, she noted that the experience was much different than her work in Canada.
Although Chai Lifeline Toronto was small when she had started out there, it grew significantly over time. In comparison, Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic is considerably smaller in its scope and structure. The health-care industry in the United States is also significantly different from the industry in Canada.
“There are some differences in the system here, obviously,” pointed out Greenbaum. “In Canada, for example, we have socialized medicine. There’s a lot of insurance issues that vary in the United States.”
Still, some things about working at Chai Lifeline remain similar, no matter the location.
“No matter where you’re from, things like family structure, and children’s wants and needs, are generally the same,” she said.
Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic is currently planning to expand its services to Washington, D.C., and its environs.
Greenbaum said the organization is recruiting volunteers from the D.C. and Silver Spring area to meet the needs of families there, many of whom have kids who are patients at Children’s National Hospital.
“I’m grateful that I’m able to fill most of my clients’ needs because of the community support and volunteer base that we have,” stated Greenbaum. “We really have a strong team of people, and we’re able to step in and make a big difference in people’s lives. So I appreciate having opportunities to be able to facilitate that.”