by Kimberly Troup
I love visiting youth centers in Israel – they are always among my favorite places to visit. They are filled with so much life! Teenagers in Israel are like most other teenagers –an awkward combination of almost adult, yet still a child. They have enough energy and enthusiasm to conquer the world. Youth centers in Israel do an amazing job harnessing their potential. Counselors guide these teens on a path that helps them grow into well-rounded, productive adults.
How do they do it? Through a lot of interaction, intervention, listening, and being there for the teens when they face a crisis. Many of the youngsters avoid the usual teenage angst because they have healthy relationships. These relationships with their peers and leaders reinforce the same values they learn at home. I think teen centers in Israel take the lead in innovation. They enable the teens to be part of their own solution rather than part of the problem. As they serve others, they help solve problems and avoid creating so many of their own.
At a youth center, the children volunteer in a host of community projects: delivering meals to lonely seniors, or tutoring younger students. They often lead a Scout troop or Bnei Akiva club. They also organize clean-up days, or perform a special song or play for their community celebrations. They are encouraged to find problems that they can solve, or more accurately, needs that they can fill. With team-work and guidance from the counselors, they become an army of volunteers in their community. As they give to their community, they don’t have time for boredom. They look outward and move away from self-centeredness. Thinking of others gives them a healthy focus and outlook on life. The world doesn’t revolve around them.
But the youth center is also about having fun. While the community puts a lot of effort into outreach and volunteering, they also create a safe place for teens to just be kids. So there are billiard tables, ping-pong tables, board games, books, movies, and video games to play. Teens grow up too quickly in Israel, as too many teens are exposed to the dangers and traumas of terrorism and war and a very young age. And they live with the constant knowledge that the neighboring villages may harbor terrorists. Youth centers are especially vital in Judea and Samaria where the communities are often isolated. Parents want to keep their teens close to home and not traveling unsafe roads to see friends.
Teens at a typical Youth Center in Israel
The Bet Yatir Youth Center has seen hundreds of teens grow up within its walls. Today, those walls are shabby. This is where you come in. The parents of Bet Yatir are asking you to invest in their teens. They know the potential within their teens. They are asking you to make a donation so they can refurbish the well-used youth center and make it look new again. With your help they will be able to put fresh paint on the walls, install new flooring, and buy new games, and furniture. Can you imagine how it will shine when everything is new again? Just think of the potential that will come from within these walls?
They are ready to do the hard work –the teens will do much of it themselves. But they need you to help them buy the paint, new flooring, new games and new furniture. Please join me today in providing the funds they need to make this dream come true. Will you make an investment today in Bet Yatir’s future? In Israel’s future?