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2016-08-26 digital edition

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August 26, 2016  RSS feed
Social Services

Text: T T T

With open arms (and hands), Gulf Coast’s Yad B’Yad mentoring program grows

“Little Yad” Emily Johnstone enjoys playing a game with “Big Yad” Dolores Turner at the recent Celebration Station Yad B’ Yad event. “Little Yad” Emily Johnstone enjoys playing a game with “Big Yad” Dolores Turner at the recent Celebration Station Yad B’ Yad event. Yad B’ Yad (Hand in Hand), a program run by Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, is expanding.

Yad B’Yad was created to link “mentors,” Jewish adult volunteers, with children from single-parent households. The one-on-one relationship created between the mentor, the “Big Yad,” and the mentee, the “Little Yad,” provides support for the child, as well as another adult to look out for the child’s well-being.

The program is growing to include children from a two-parent household as well. “We realize that children with other family experiences, as well as single-parent families, can benefit by having a Jewish adult friend and mentor,” explains Program Coordinator Deena Silver. “It might be a case of much of the parent’s time being taken by a family member’s illness or a very large family not allowing for much individual time with an adult.”

The goal of the program is for the Little Yad to have the undivided attention of the Big Yad, no matter what they do. In addition, their shared Judaism, both heritage and religious belief, “makes a statement of the Jewish spirit of giving,” says Cindy Minetti, director of Jewish Family Services programs.

The mentor and the mentee spend time together doing various activities, either indoors or outdoors. One Big Yad took a Little Yad to Habitat for Humanity projects to teach him how to use various tools, followed by a stop for ice cream on the way home. Other Bigs and Littles share swimming outings or trips to the library.

In addition, there are program-wide events, such as the annual Hanukkah party, that bring all of the Big and Little Yads of all ages together.

Spending time together and becoming friends can help the child develop confidence, a positive self-identity and enhanced social skills.

For more information or to register a child in the program, contact Silver at (727) 450- 7278 or email

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