Beit Yedidim is a multi-purpose community educational drop-in center for at-risk children and youth in depressed communities. It is a retreat where kids learn, develop friendships, and receive important life skills. For many it is a safe, supervised space where they hang out, receive help with homework, and participate in socio-cultural and educational activities, thereby keeping them off the street and out of harm’s way. For others it is an island of safety-literally saving them from danger and neglect. Staffed by a team of seasoned professionals and tens of volunteers, Beit Yedidim offers disadvantaged young people the motivation, confidence, skills and tools they need to reach their academic and personal potential.
The on-going support, educational enrichment and extra-curricular activities aim to widen their horizons so that they may see their future in a new light.
Approximately 35% of children in Israel are living under the poverty line; most of them live in disadvantaged and outlying areas. Often times, these children have parents who work 2 or 3 jobs just to put food on the table – so their needs for emotional support, warmth, adult supervision, and help with homework get neglected. These disadvantaged youth have little chance at leading normal lives and without proper intervention will not reach their potential.
In Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, over 450 marginalized children and youth receive one-on-one attention, educational enrichment and tutorial assistance daily. Beginning with a home visit, a tailor-made “Personal Advancement Program” is designed for each participant in order to respond to their unique needs, challenges, interests and strengths. In order to be able to participate in the extra-curricular activities offered, they are to come to Beit Yedidim with their school bags and homework. In this way, they are not only in a safe, supervised environment from 3 to 8 pm, but dozens of professionally trained volunteers are on hand to make sure they get the help they need to achieve their academic and personal potential.
Providing equal opportunities to all our children, has far reaching social and moral repercussions. Our inability to respond adequately to the needs of disadvantaged youth will not only do an injustice to them and their quality of life, but will also lead to a vicious cycle of school drop-out, drug St alcohol abuse, crime and violence ־ putting a toll on Israeli society that it cannot afford.