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2014-10-24 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

October 24, 2014  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Yad B’Yad program matches Jewish kids with mentors


Bob Berkowitz and Daniel Applefield at the recent Yad B’Yad bowling party Bob Berkowitz and Daniel Applefield at the recent Yad B’Yad bowling party “Playing tennis with Bob is one of my favorite activities,” explains 14 year-old Daniel Applefield. Since they were matched in the Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services’ Yad B’ Yad Program in 2011 Daniel and mentor Bob Berkowitz have enjoyed almost weekly get togethers.

“Bob is always looking for fun activities for them to do. And on occasion he has even helped Daniel with his homework,” said Daniel’s mother, Janet, at a recent Yad B’Yad bowling and pizza party.

Presently, the Gulf Coast JFCS Yad B’Yad Program is accepting applications for volunteer mentors as well as children who would like to join the program. Open to children between the ages of 6 and 18, the program matches Jewish children from single parent families or families with special needs with Jewish adult mentors. All volunteers are carefully screened.

The “Big Yads” are encouraged to plan weekly or bi-weekly activities that allow the pair to build a friendship. The goal of the mentor is not to replace the parent, but to help strengthen the child’s sense of self and connection to the Jewish community. The relationship also strengthens the family by enriching their lives with an additional adult influence.

“We have had many Big Yads attend their Little Yads Bar or Bat Mitzvah as honored guests,” said program coordinator, Deena Silver. “And it is gratifying to see that many of the volunteers become so involved with their Little Yads and their families that the friendship continues long after the child has aged out of our program.”

Matches may also work together in service projects for the community. “We have had pairs volunteer together at Habitat for Humanity building a house as well as helping stock the shelves of the JFS food pantry” all of which teach the Jewish spirit of tikkun olam, repairing the world,” Silver said.

Several group activities, including a Chanukah party, are held each year. This gives an opportunity for the children and adults to spend time together, and share ideas along with celebrating a holiday or the beginning of the school year.

The Yad B’Yad program was started with a generous grant from the Rothman Family Foundation, and the Rothman family continues to provide financial support for the program’s group activities.

For more information about volunteering or to register a child in the Yad B’Yad Program contact Silver at (727) 450-7278 or dsilver@gcjfcs.org.


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