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IE Volunteer:

What He Gets From Giving

Over the years, Israel Elwyn and its more than 3,000 service recipients have benefitted from the generosity of numerous volunteers.  Israelis and foreigners alike, these volunteers generously give of their time to help people with disabilities achieve their personal and professional goals.  Yehuda Fuchs, who spoke at an IE employee gathering in Haifa, is one of these volunteers.  We are pleased to let him tell about his volunteering experience in his own words, which he agreed to put in writing after he said them at a recent dinner in which he was honored:

Send Your Bread Over the Waters

“Good evening.  The saying, ’Send your bread over the waters, for one day you will find it,’ has a number of meanings.  One that I particularly like is, ’A man who is merciful with others, who influences and gives of himself, even if only by a smile or kind word, never loses by it and is repaid many times over’ (Rabbi Eliezer Rafael Broide).

“My background is technical and I worked as the Haifa Theater’s production manager for 37 years, being responsible for all the technical aspects of each production.  Volunteering was not that important to me.

A Surprising Connection

“During my work, as often happened, a high school student asked for my help in contacting someone for assistance with her final project on theater.  The contact was made and the project – well, I haven’t a clue as to what grade she received, but decades later a woman called and convinced me to join a tour of IE’s Haifa programs.  I say “convinced” because her appeal was extremely difficult to refuse.  I went along and ended up joining the Haifa Friends of Israel Elwyn Group.  The student and the caller were one and the same – Anat Ben-Zvi, who then headed IE’s Haifa & Northern Israel branch.

“At the first meeting, I gave my name and background but said that I didn’t know what I was doing there.  Someone else introduced himself and said that, like me, he didn’t know what he was doing there, wasn’t prepared to fundraise but would be glad to work with a student with disabilities on cultural or educational subjects.  His announcement touched my heart and became my guiding light in joining the organization.

Rewarding Work at the Retiree Center

“I began to volunteer at IE’s Retiree Center in Haifa, a lovely group of people [ed:  with intellectual disabilities] who decided to retire around the age of 50.  We tried and had some success in starting a theater activity.  Need I say that the retirees participated and enjoyed the music and rhythm?  It was wonderful to involve Eli, who sat in a wheelchair, in the role of our forefather Abraham; to hear Oded sing “Beautiful-Eyed Good Girl;” to bring Ronnie a flute on which to play a shepherd’s tune played by an imaginary well to a Biblical Rachel.

“Involving the retirees in handicrafts - making dolls and other items in the field of theater, was an additional source of my satisfaction.

“When the Retiree Center moved to its new facility two years ago, we began having weekly talks about subjects in the news.  Each Sunday morning I would arrive and join the group to talk about things that interested them.  Once we dealt with patience and flexibility.  To illustrate, we tied a cord between two chairs, giving each person the opportunity to find a way to get ‘over the river’ in order to practice the concepts.  We discussed how we sometimes have to give in a little so that both parties in a situation can achieve their goals.

A Real Return on Investment

“At a highly successful gala evening of the IE Haifa Friends at a local museum, thanks were expressed to many donors and volunteers.  I rose and said that we were the ones who should give – not receive – thanks, because the true indication of thanks is the personal and emotional contact created between us and those for whom we volunteer.  Our reward comes when a service recipient asks or says, “You’re coming next week, aren’t you?”

“I won’t deny that it’s both nice and important to receive positive feedback, and feeling valued is always important.  On this occasion I would like to thank the IE staff with whom I work.

A Very Personal Connection

“In closing I would like to share with you one of the exciting experiences I have each Friday at 4:00 p.m., when one of the retirees from the Center calls me to wish my family a “Shabbat Shalom”.  This form of contact had become a type of habit and I worried when he didn’t call two weeks ago.  When I called him, he very emotionally explained that one of the other group members had passed away.  Last week he was feeling better and again called before the start of that Shabbat.”

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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