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June 12, 2008 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-06-12

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Metro

Sta ff photo by Ang ie Baan

ON THE COVER

House An Athlete

Open your home to out-of-town teens and begin a lifelong adventure.

Elizabeth Applebaum

Special to the Jewish News

S

tewart, Mimi and 4-year-old Laura Markofsky

were moving to West Bloomfield. While renova-
tions on their new house were being completed,
the family stayed in a two-bedroom apartment along with
their dog, Sammy, and all their clothing in cardboard furni-
ture boxes.
What a wonderful time to add two 14-year-old boys
they'd never even met to the household.
"We didn't know anything about boys — like you have to
threaten them to take showers," Mimi says.
Or their inability to understand why uniforms that
undergo a rigorous day on the sports field might need
washing. Purchasing cows was a consideration as well. "I
went through so many gallons of milk!" Markofsky says,
laughing. "And it was my pleasure."
In 1984, the JCC Maccabi Games came to Detroit for the
first time. Hundreds of homes were needed for the athletes.
Among those who opened their doors were the Markofskys.
It was such fun that the family decided to do it again in
1998 and again when the Games return to Detroit this Aug.
17-22 at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.
"I am so doing this again because we had such a great
experience Markofsky says. 'And because if my child were
going to a Jewish event out of town I would hope somebody
would step up to the plate and take care of her."
The Games are an annual, international program of ath-
letics and social activities that has united Jewish teens since
1982. The goals are to teach respect, sportsmanship and
how to integrate sports with Jewish identity and values. This
August, more than 2,500 athletes will be in Detroit for the
Games — more than half still need homes, including 750
beds in observant (shomer Shabbat and kosher) homes.

Lifelong Connections
When Mimi and Stewart Markofsky hosted their first ath-
letes in 1984, it was just the two boys. In 1998, the number
of athletes coming to the Games had increased by hun-
dreds, so the family hosted seven, including Roy Kirsch of
Manhattan and Rachel Tovian of Highland Park, Ill., both
of whom became friends of the family.
"We've shared family simchahs" (the Markofskys
recently attended Rachel's brother's bar mitzvah) and sad-
nesses (when Mimi's father died, Rachel and her family
came to the funeral), Mimi says. Rachel even attended the
University of Michigan, in part, because she wanted "to
be close to her second Mom and Dad',' she told Mimi. Roy
went to school in Wisconsin, but often sent friends at U-M
to the Markofsky home.
And all it took was a little driving, a little food and a bit
of parental compassion and guidance. "Treat them like you
would your own kids," Markofsky advises. Then sit back
and something extraordinary can occur.
Just ask Laura Markofsky, now in her mid-20s. "It was
the best experience I've ever had:' Laura says.
Some of it is the little memories: Her mother arriving
with a huge crowd of teens from the JCC; the boy from the
city so excited to see the Markofskys' suburban lawn that
he asked could he please mow it; getting DVDs for every-
one to watch together; the guest who asked to be dropped
off, alone, in the middle of Detroit on Saturday night, just
to look around ("We took him putt-putting instead:' Laura
s ays ).
Then there is something else: Your life changing in ways
you might never have imagined by experiencing a great
adventure, meeting someone in what seems such a random
way who then becomes the one friend who keeps all your

Maccabi on page Al2

Become A Host Family

The athletes come from a variety of backgrounds,
so a variety of locations are needed: kosher homes,
those without pets, places where families have expe-
rience with children who have certain medical needs,
such as diabetes, homes that can accommodate a
child who speaks only Spanish.
Volunteer families need to:
• House at least two athletes
• Have at least one Jewish adult in the family
•Attend an orientation
• Provide athletes with a bed or air mattress (if you
don't have one, the committee will get you one)
• Pick up athletes at the JCC in West Bloomfield on
Sunday, Aug.17
• Have a registered driver 21 or older to drive ath-
letes
• Give guests dinner on Aug.17 and bring them to
opening ceremonies by 6 p.m., stay for the cer-
emonies and take athletes home
• Provide guests with snacks and breakfast
Monday-Friday
• Make a washer and dryer available
• Have an evening activity and dinner for the teens
on Aug.18 (Host Family Night)
• Return guests to the JCC for departure on Aug.
22
• Communicate with athlete's family once housing
is assigned
•Drop athletes off at satellites (in Oak Park,
Southfield, Farmington) or at the designated venue,
then pick them up after evening activities
To volunteer as a host family, contact the Maccabi
office at (248) 432-5500 or maccabi@jccdet.org .

June 12 • 2008

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