RECENTLY we were told that the Befrienders Group was the best kept secret in ESRA so here are some details of the work being done.
The volunteers who befriend are totally dedicated and all go the extra mile to help the people they visit. Very little becomes public about this work because of its confidential nature, but these volunteers are out there regularly visiting those in need and giving good, quality time.
Most requests received are from English speakers who live in the center of the country. However, telephone counseling is given throughout Israel and has also been given to prospective immigrants living abroad.
The first group of volunteers was trained in 1997, and in 1998 a group of 17 befrienders held their first meeting. Some of the original group not only still befriend but are befriending their original contacts.
A second group of volunteers was trained in 2006 and a further group will be trained in early 2008.
Each year an additional 30 - 40 people are befriended in addition to those already being visited. Some of the help given is short-term, but many people need long-term help.
Some examples of requests received:
- walk with the elderly
- take patients to hospital for treatment
- befriend the lonely
- read to the elderly
- help those temporarily housebound with light cooking and shopping
- being a telephone friend
- help find the assistance for those with special needs
During the Second Lebanon War the volunteers were very active at Mishan where 60 elderly people were brought from the North. This group of volunteers visited Mishan on a regular basis and in recognition of their work, ESRA received an award from the Raanana Municipality.