In 2011 YEDID has run successful employment empowerment programs in cities across Israel. Over 60% of participants find work or begin vocational training at the conclusion of their programs.
All too often, YEDID staff and volunteers find themselves bemoaning the fact that we spend too much time putting out fires and not enough time preventing them. If only we had the time to not only solve the presenting crises that our clients approach us with, but also ensure that their story will not repeat itself, that they could leave YEDID with a debt-free life on the horizon.
Clients that are lucky enough to join one of YEDID's employment empowerment programs are lucky enough to get that assistance. In 2011 YEDID has run Let's Get to Work! employment empowerment programs in Tzfat, Nazareth, Petach Tikva, Jerusalem, Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat. The programs in Tzfat, Nazareth and Kiryat Malachi were unique in that they were in cooperation with the National Insurance Institute and worked entirely with welfare recipients. Below are three inspiring stories of lives that have been changed.
Sahar from Nazareth
Sahar is a 40-year-old mother of five (aged 4-11) from Nazareth. Although she graduated high school with merit, she has never worked. She had wanted to continue to further education but her parents were against it. Her married life has been spent using up great amounts of emotional energy in bringing up her children while dealing with her drug-addict husband who physically and mentally abused her. She did everything she could to stand by her husband and get him off drugs but when she felt that her family was at breaking point she took a stand, made a police complaint and now her husband is in prison. By joining Let's Get to Work! she was seeking a "seal of approval" to make further change in her life as well as some direction. Her participation in the course has helped her to see light at the end of the tunnel and in September 2011 she began a full time course in early-childhood education. The course finishes at the end of March and she is already dreaming of setting up a daycare group in her home.
Shira from Kiryat Malachi
Shira is a divorced mother of two little girls in her thirties. She had been living in her mother's small apartment, supported by income maintenance payments. She joined Let's Get to Work! in Kiryat Malachi and it has been the catalyst for hugely important changes in her life. With the assistance of project staff, Shira was empowered to get to work and for the last few months she has been working in customer services at Israel's major telecommunications company, Bezeq. As part of YEDID's package of holistic assistance, volunteers at the Kiryat Malachi Center assisted Shira in applying for rental subsidies which has enabled her move out of her mother's place and rent a modest apartment for her and her girls. YEDID also assisted her in finding furniture donations to furnish the apartment. At the graduation ceremony of her Let's Get to Work! group, Shira spoke emotionally about the tools she gained from YEDID: "I am working and I am happy, I'm running my own household and I'm using the tips I learned in the financial management course to do that."
Herzl from Jerusalem
In Jerusalem, funded by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, YEDID has been running "A Door to the Future", an alternative employment empowerment program were clients, largely referred from the Jerusalem Citizen Rights Center, receive one-to-one coaching from a professional employment coach.
Herzl (44) first came to YEDID to receive assistance with claims to the National Insurance Institute and Center staff recommended that he join A Door to the Future. Although he has worked in the past as a handyman, he has no profession and has a criminal record and history of drug abuse. He has however been clean for three years and now that he has straightened out that part of his life, was determined to start earning a real income as well.
When he first started meeting with Yael, the program's employment coach, Herzl didn’t have a resume and did not know where or how to begin looking. Yael worked with him intensively on what type of work might suit him and how to go about looking for it. Together they decided that physical work in a care home would suit him and that approaching potential employers directly might be the best method for him. This way he would be able to show people that he is serious and that he is reliable despite his problematic past. They also discussed how to dress appropriately and opened him an internet email account as another method for communicating with employers.
Last month, Herzl started working a few hours a day at a care home for the elderly. He took the job despite the fact that he could have continued earning a similar sum of money through income maintenance from the National Insurance Institute. In his own words, he did this, "because I knew that I needed to start somewhere and use that as a place to go forward from". And this is exactly what has happened – the nursing home has already offered him extra hours.