November 17, 2011

Working Together for a Good Start in Life

Working in Israel's most disadvantaged neighborhoods, JDC's Better Together program strives to address the most outstanding risks to children and youth in the community by mobilizing residents, identifying and utilizing community resources and responding to unmet needs.  In Neve Alonim,  a neighborhood in the city of Ashkelon, Better Together is making a difference through the support and partnership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County. 

The following personal story of a young mother's progress, as she ensures the development of her young children while furthering her own career, encapsulates the community involvement that is the cornerstone of Better Together's success.

Young mother Sarah regularly attends Neve Alonim’s Early Childhood Enrichment Room with her two children, aged three and six. Although she has a full-time job caring for babies at a day care center, the family's financial position is still precarious.

Sarah first heard about the room through the neighborhood's Community Center. When staff conducted interviews with residents prior to setting up the room, Sara stepped up and joined the Mothers’ Forum, which was established to ensure that Better Together's early learning programs fit the needs of the neighborhood's preschoolers.

Three times a week, Sarah brings her children to family literacy programs at the Playroom, and they both already feel at home there. While there, she formed a close bond with the staff, who have become a source of much needed support.

Moreover, Sarah is now employed there to run regular creative activities for parents and children. She has also recruited several new families to the Playroom, and as a member of the Mothers' Forum she is now participating in the course to develop community leadership.

As a result of her involvement with Better Together, Sarah is rapidly becoming a key figure in the neighborhood. While making an invaluable contribution to activities for very young children and their parents, she is increasing her family's income and gaining valuable, career-enhancing skills.

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