After the first few times I got used to it, now I love it!

The first time I heard about the Ezrat Achim organization was when I was a little girl.
A few of the older girls in my neighborhood used to volunteer at Ezrat Achim’s Special Needs Centers, and I always loved to listen to their stories.
Around a year ago, I decided that I wanted to become a volunteer myself.

I was a little nervous- volunteering sounded like a great thing to do, but I wasn’t 100% sure that working with Special Needs Children was the right choice for me.
I still remember my first day- I’m embarrassed to admit that I was really a little scared.

After the first few times I got used to it.
After a while, I started to love going to the center, I got addicted to the kids!!!
I’ve learned to love not only the children who love me back unconditionally and return all my hugs and compliments, but also those who can’t communicate at all.

What encourages me is the appreciation of the parents, and especially the feeling I get when I see a little girl who hardly ever seems to connect with her surroundings, suddenly light up with a smile and I know that it’s because of me!

So why am I telling you all this? Because even though my friends and I are volunteers, which means that we don’t get paid (except for the mitzvah which is worth a lot!!), we often get the feeling that some people seem to think that with all these volunteers around, there must be very little cost involved in running the Special Needs department at Ezrat Achim.
The reality is exactly the opposite: the expense is huge.

There is the rent that has to be paid at each center, the cost of the fresh meals that are cooked on site and served to the children daily, a professional staff at each center, prizes, special activities and programs, the vans that bring the children home each day. The playground facilities and toys in the yard are a huge expense, and there is a tremendous amount of cleaning that has to be paid for each day. Especially because of Corona, we have to be so careful. The centers are always well-kept, clean and neat.

My friends and I who volunteer at Ezrat Achim sometimes hear comments like:
“Wow, what a zechut you have! I’m jealous of your s’char!”

So for anyone who has ever wished they could be part of the amazing chessed factory that is known as Ezrat Achim, now is your chance! Please partner with me and dozens of other local teenagers who volunteer and give their heart and soul to these sweet kids!

Is there a gift that could be more appropriate to give to the special children of Bet Shemesh this Chanukah, than a ray of light, in the form of a donation to the Ezrat Achim Special Needs Centers that light up their lives every day of the year?
I can’t think of anything better!

Happy Chanukah!
R. G.
A Proud Ezrat Achim Volunteer