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Good Deeds Abound at Israel Elwyn

April 2015

The annual “Good Deeds Day” celebrated in Israel took place on Tuesday, March 24.  This extraordinary social enterprise was established in 2007 by Shari Arison, a prominent Israeli businesswoman, as a ‘holiday’ for social, community and environmental activity.  A nonprofit organization helps pair volunteers and projects.  Some of the most common activities from which volunteers may choose include painting homes and public facilities; planting public gardens; fun activities for children, people with disabilities and the elderly; and visits to nursing homes.

Reshet (“Network”) Participants Giving Back to the Community

Beer Sheba Reshet participants proudly show off their street decorations

Reshet participants from Beer Sheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv – all teenagers with disabilities studying in the non-special education system – put their heads together with their counselors to consider where they would volunteer on Good Deeds Day.

The teens from Ashdod helped organize a Fun Day for the children of the Nir Elementary School in their city, preparing food, special treats and a musical activity for the children. The group from Beer Sheba took part in activities intended to renovate and beautify a neighborhood, decorating streets and painting supporting walls.  They left with the feeling that they had done something important for the residents and that their efforts had improved the appearance of the area.  The Ashkelon teenagers chose to operate an experiential activity for children with disabilities in a local kindergarten.  The children were so appreciative that the teens decided they would organize similar activities for the kindergarten several times a year.  The Tel Aviv youth were invited to tour the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University and, along with the student guides, performed experiments and together reached agreement that they would continue to interact.

“This was a very meaningful day for me,” said Dror, from Beer Sheba’s Reshet program, “and I would like to continue giving back to the community. Meeting so many other teenagers who also came to help beautify this neighborhood was exciting and I hope the residents enjoy the results of our labors for years to come.”

Orel, of the Ashkelon Reshet group, was also enthusiastic about her experience.  “I was really glad to participate in our activity for the kindergarten.  We met children who need to connect with more people, and the relationship that sprang up today excited us.  Our group decided to continue coming to the kindergarten every so often, independently of Good Deeds Day.”

The aim of IE’s Reshet transitional program for teens with disabilities is to prepare these high school students for independence and adulthood by helping them to: 1) develop social and employment skills, 2) experience social and employment activities, and 3) prepare for meaningful military or national service.

In Kfar Yona with IE's “Photographing from the Heart” Social Enterprise


L-r: Preparing for a photo of the volunteers beautifying Kfar Yona; proud photographers at their photo exhibition

"Photographing from the Heart” was created several years ago at IE’s Kfar Yona Occupational Training Center when people with disabilities working there were invited to participate in a photography course with one of the counselors.  Since then, these talented individuals have begun to photograph at events around the country and have created a traveling exhibition of their works.

In advance of Good Deeds Day, “Photographing from the Heart” photographers organized photo opportunities through Albert Mor, Director – Social Services Division, Kfar Yona.  At their first stop, the three photographers caught volunteers from a local school hard at work decorating the electrical and communications boxes positioned throughout the city.  From there, photographers Orel, Meital and Tamir proceeded to a neighborhood where volunteers from the Israel Prison Service were painting the stairwells of old buildings.  The day was rounded out with an exhibition of “Photographing from the Heart” photographs from nature and other events at the Kfar Yona Community Hall, when many visitors bought pictures to hang in their homes and offices.

At Israel Elwyn’s Early Intervention Center in Jerusalem


Hebrew University Academy of Music volunteers enjoying their decorating efforts

Four volunteers – students from the Hebrew University Academy of Music and from a local high school – spent the day at IE’s Early Intervention Center (EIC) in Jerusalem.  They provided guitar accompaniment and sang seasonal songs with the children, who range in age from one to three years.  They and the children then prepared matza and planted herbs.

The volunteers joined the EIC’s year-round National Service volunteers to decorate the playground with different themes for typical Israeli children’s games:  land/sea, hopscotch and others.

The children enjoyed the activities and the volunteers expressed their satisfaction at having had a meaningful time, filled with giving and joy.  Some even asked if they could continue to volunteer at the EIC.

At Israel Elwyn’s Supported Living Services in Jerusalem


L-r: Volunteers and residents of IE's Supported Living Services in Jerusalem pose together during a busy day of activities; Israeli police officer and trained dog in the K-9 unit (credit: Israel Police)

Over 40 volunteers flocked to IE’s Supported Living Services to work with the residents on a variety of projects. The first to arrive were 12 employees of Bank Hapoalim, who worked with residents on repairing damage caused to a garden by the winter’s snows and to prepare for planting spring flowers and plants.  They were followed by 30 young adults from a pre-Army preparatory course, who set up a fun fair for the residents to try their hand at a variety of games and skills.  Five students came from a Jerusalem high school for students of science and the arts to bake cookies with groups of residents, and five participants from another pre-Army preparatory course took residents to a local park for a hike and sports activities.

The highlight of the day was the visit by six police dog handlers who brought their highly trained dogs for a display of their work – searching for lost individuals, drugs, and firearms.  The residents were also given short demonstration rides in police vehicles.

At the end of the day, the residents were tired but satisfied with the range of experiences they had enjoyed.

Lets Connect

We'd love to hear from you! Also, please let us know in advance of your next trip to Israel and we will give you a tour of the Israel Elwyn programs.

You can also contact one of our North American offices: United States: (267) 225-5132 or Canada: (416) 649-1655.

If you would like to make a contribution either online or by check, please see the details below.

David B. Marcu, Chief Executive Officer

IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide array of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society. Together with people with disabilities and society at large, we shall continue working as an innovative and cutting-edge organization.

Please support the work of Israel Elwyn to provide state-of-the-art services in the areas of childhood early intervention, rehabilitation, assisted living, vocational training and employment services for persons with disabilities by making a gift:

At PayPal:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn

By check payable to:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn, PO Box 828284, Philadelphia, PA 19182-8284
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn, 74 Tycos Drive, Toronto, Ontario M6B 1V9

To donate in Israel:
Please click this link:
Mail checks: payable to "Israel Elwyn", at 20 Henrietta Szold St., Jerusalem 9650200

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