Israel Help and Education Center, is a multi-purpose center providing day-care and educational facilities for children from infancy to high school along with welfare programs for poor families and the elderly. We operate under the auspices of the Torani Educational Institutions of Kyriat Gat which was founded in 1970 by Chabad educators and former soldiers who served their country proudly and wished to devote themselves to helping their fellow Israelis in a peripheral town lift themselves from poverty to productive members of society.
Israel Help is managed by our Executive Director, Rabbi Gershon Levin and a Board of Directors, led by chair Rabbi Yaakov Levin and consisting of seven members who are recognized experts in the fields of education, counseling and social welfare. We have a professional staff of 70 and many more volunteers who assist in implementing the programs. Center has serves the development town of Kiryat Gat providing educational reinforcement and therapeutic and welfare services for the well being and advancement more than 3000 of the weakest populations of Kiryat Gat
Kiryat Gat is a peripheral town situated in Southern Israel roughly 30 kilometers from Gaza. Kiryat Gat has been struck by rockets in the past and due to its proximity to Gaza and it remains an easy target for the future. Additionally, the socioeconomic situation in the town is very unfortunate. Out of the town’s 57,000 residents, more than half of them live off of welfare payments or earn salaries at a similar level. Kiryat Gat has its share of children and youth at-risk—those who have behavioral problems in school, are delinquent, and even drop out school—many of which come from depressed socioeconomic backgrounds. There are over 2,000 children registered with the welfare authorities. Many children are left to fend for themselves before and after school and would go hungry without the programs offered at the Help and Education Center. For many, the lunch that they receive in school or in one of the Center’s other programs is their only daily meal. Sadly, some even take part of their food home to help feed their siblings or family.
The Center is unique because our strategy is comprehensive – we seek to not only provide assistance to the poverty-stricken children and adults of Kiryat Gat, the Center aims to give them the tools through education and adult education activities so that they can break out of the cycle of poverty.
Since its inception, the Center has been operating programs in accordance with our above mission serving more than 3,000 people each year out of a deep sense of Jewish people-hood and Tikun Olam.
In addition to the information above, I am attaching a letter of recommendation from the Mayor of Kyriat Gat, and a pdf of our 2012 brochure. The following is a description of the various educational programs and welfare services which we provide.
- Tutoring and Enrichment Activities and Summer Camps—Programming operates from 1:30 pm – 6:30pm and provides more than 700 children with a safe environment that provides homework assistance and teaches life-skills, good morals, and advancement through education.
- Family Services and Counseling—Many of these children need extra support and care outside of an educational environment due to the dismal situations that they come from. In their homes, these children have parents who are poverty-stricken, abusive, divorced, mentally disabled, sickly, neglectful, arrested, and even drug addicted. The family intervention and counseling services is staffed mainly by volunteers and operates from 6:30pm – Midnight. It provides supportive therapies and counseling by professional psychologists and social workers.
- Renovations and Purchasing Equipment— In addition to the airconditioning units, fire extinguishing system, chairs, tables and other furnishings needed for the day care center and kindergartens following renovation, funds are sought for building playgrounds, renovating our facilities and synagogue as well as buying everything from games and books to office supplies and fuel.
- Kindergarten and Daycare Centers—in Israel in order to make ends meet, both parents must work—especially in peripheral towns like Kiryat Gat. Many young children in our area suffer from severe neglect. In order to make a positive difference in their lives, an intervention is necessary before primary school begins. The Center operates 6 daycare centers and 17 kindergartens that provides for many of the developmental needs of these children and more importantly, a regular hot meal and nurturing environment.
- Adult Educational Programs—the Center offers parenting, employment skills and financial skills workshops, among other topics as well as family counseling
- Elementary Schools—The Center operates a school for boys and a school for girls. The girls school is one of our longest standing projects and is fully accredited as a public school by the Ministry of Education in Israel. Our student population is very diverse—students come from both religious and secular home and include native Israelis as well as many new immigrants from the FSU, Ethiopia and South America.
- “Do not forsake us in our old age” – a program of assistance to the indigent elderly in Kyriat Gat. Please see details below
Program evaluations are carried out by the staff and the social workers at the end of the school year. They measure the children’s social and academic progress. Our evaluation relies on face to face interviews, and discussion groups supervised by the program social workers. In addition, we collect feedback from the parents involved and from the teachers at the school, and compare the expected outcomes versus the actual results. The results of the evaluation will be used to make adjustments and improvements to the program for the following year.
In the long-run, the lives of the children that participate will be better, both as a result of the educational support and as a result of the external support such as the family services and counseling. They will be equipped with the skills that they need to change their lives and empower them to take control of their lives and make a better future for themselves. They will perform better in school and have more focus as they progress through school as to what they want to study and how it will help them in the future.
An evaluation of the equipment purchased and the extent to which this has led to an increase in the number of children that we are able to reach out and help as a result of the additional equipment will also be carried out, with a focus on what is needed for the coming year.