A TIME is widely recognized and venerated as the nation’s leading organization to offer support, advocacy, education, guidance and referrals to Jewish couples struggling with infertility. In order to accurately portray all that A TIME accomplishes on any given 24-hour period, I decided to spend a day with them and take note of the goings on. As an inconspicuous observer, I watched in awe and amazement as this group of special individuals took on all the daunting aspects associated with infertility. I jotted down details and snippets of everything I saw. Consequently, the following is just a brief overview of the defining moments that habitually take place in the course of a single day at the diligent offices of A TIME.
Every morning at A TIME begins with the returning of a copious number of messages received during the previous evening. On this particular occasion, one disheartened couple has called to report a pregnancy loss. Sighing in sympathy, the secretary offers unmitigated sensitivity and support. In the course of conversation she learns that it’s the woman’s 3rd cycle of IVF that has failed. While nothing she can say or do could ever replace the irreversible loss, her compassion undoubtedly helps to ease the pain. She then confers the telephone number of Malky K., who conducts a weekly support program for women who share in the woman’s poignant, painful situation. The member’s call is next forwarded to a second desk, at which the woman is referred to a doctor who specializes in repeated pregnancy loss.
After disconnecting, the secretary arranges for a pregnancy loss package, courtesy of A TIME – sending it to the heartbroken-but-hopeful recipient with warmest wishes. The box is overflowing with chizuk and informative articles, a box of chocolates, a tender poem, a musical CD, and plenty of love. The message A TIME endeavors strongly to convey is that the loss of a pregnancy should never culminate in the loss of hope.
Another call comes through from someone who has recently received financial aid, so that she might undergo a long-anticipated medical procedure. The caller is destitute, for the cycle has failed and her fiscal resources are thoroughly exhausted. The treatment center contacted her, asking for yet additional funds for further procedural options. In desperate straits, the woman turns to A TIME for both verbal encouragement and monetary assistance.
In the interim, another man contacts A TIME, asking about their extensive adoption resources. He wants to know the standard processes by which to adopt a child. One of A TIME’s ever-patient staff elucidates the list of routine requirements for the applicant. She forwards by email the name and telephone number of the social worker he’d need to reach for home study, along with the contact information of various lawyers specializing in New York State adoptions. She takes a personal interest in the eventual outcome of his proposal, asking that he call back once he gets certified.
This is the third call concerning adoption that A TIME has received in one week – but for all the enthusiasm and warmth inherent in the secretary’s voice, it might have been the first call she’d received concerning adoption all year. The Menora Project of A TIME offers a multitude of adoption services, to attract Jewish birth moms across the country. Due to the heavy volume of adoption-related phone calls, A TIME has recently decided to develop and further the capacity of its current project.
The telephones ring incessantly, with interminable requests. People phone to register for upcoming events, ask for listings of gemachs, or referrals to physicians and therapists. Extension 280 is kept continually busy dealing exclusively with issues of hashgacha.
While the staff caters tirelessly to the varying needs of every caller and sees to the myriad undertakings in which A TIME is involved, the office manager is busy making calls of her own. She is in the process of securing open telephone lines for a series of imminent conference talks, to take place over the following eight weeks. The talks will present an open forum wherein callers can lend and receive support, along with timely information on all subjects relative to infertility.
The mail arrives at midday, and with it arrives ever more responsibilities. Membership forms, brochures and fertility books swamp the overcrowded desks, waiting to be addressed. The JCCA/ Ametz Adoption Program has sent a pamphlet detailing a forthcoming adoption conference. A staff member contacts the program director, requesting an e-mailed copy, so she can forward it to everyone on her list of potential adoptive parents. While forwarding, she also e-mails information concerning the New York State IVF Grant to someone who had asked about it earlier that morning. She’s briefly interrupted by the entrance of a new mother, who excitedly exhibits pictures of her precious newborn twins. This mom of three weeks will be eternally grateful to A TIME for having referred her to the doctor whose expertise enabled her to conceive.
A steady stream of volunteers relentlessly floods the office of A TIME. One proceeds to make photocopies of a pertinent medical expose, which she will mail to the 24-hour helpline staff, regarding applicable new advancements in areas of infertility. Another volunteer is filling envelopes with meticulous information concerning A TIME’s most updated services. The correspondence will be dispatched to kallah classes, in case any teacher should encounter a couple in need of A TIME’s selfless assistance.
A TIME is in possession of a comprehensive library, encompassing books on all matters of infertility. The library boasts volumes on chizuk, tapes of all the organization’s events and programs, along with multipurpose Internet access. Members can browse through sites dedicated to pregnancy, or print relevant medical articles. A TIME’s website includes an interactive forum, wherein members can ask personal questions, uninhibited. By clicking on their “Ask the Doctor” link, medical inquiries regarding infertility can be answered by certified professional physicians.
A TIME is also renowned for its Machon, which inculcates Rabbonim on the intricate halachos of infertility. Amid the hectic pace of the office, one student of the Machon comes in to avail himself of cassette tape recordings, so that he might study and gain clarity on the lessons discussed in recent classes.
An interoffice newsletter is transmitted to each of A TIME’s seven office locations, once every two weeks, to keep the staff members and devoted volunteers in every department informed of all new implementations and developments. Networking helps these hard-working individuals remain in the know regarding any of A TIME’s ever expanding, ever-progressing projects.
A TIME invests so much of their energy and resources, so many of their talents and skills, to generate their enduring, extraordinary success. They believe that by working together, every mother’s distant dream can be brought that much closer to reality. After witnessing all that A TIME is capable of realizing in a single day, I trust that they can make the impossible, possible. Their goal is to fill every woman’s yearning arms with a baby of her own – and to keep the eternal flame of hope burning strong in every Jewish heart.Chaya Sara Schlussel
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