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Youth Futures: A Source of Familial Support

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Lisa*, 13, is being raised by a single mother in Afula, in the Northern District of Israel. Her father is a drug addict who has been in and out of rehab and not in regular contact. Lisa, her two younger brothers, and their mom live in a small public housing apartment. A few months ago, Lisa’s mom lost her job due to COVID-19. She remains unemployed.

Two years ago, Lisa’s youngest brother passed away after a long and painful struggle with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). It was then that Lisa joined Youth Futures. The Jewish Agency’s Youth Futures program pairs mentors with at-risk children for a long-term period of cooperative learning and growth. Mentors focus on giving the participating kids the tools to navigate challenges and work with the entire family to help them flourish.

Lisa was paired with Shiran, a Youth Futures mentor. The two quickly formed a meaningful relationship. Shiran supported Lisa and her entire family throughout difficult times. Shiran became a rock for Lisa and her family. In particular, Shiran has helped Lisa keep her spirits up and be motivated to succeed in school. Lisa is extremely smart, but she has needed Shiran’s support to keep going despite losing her brother and dealing with other daily challenges.

Recently, Lisa, who plays the flute, told Shiran she would be unable to attend a music seminar with her peers as her mother couldn’t afford the fee. Upon hearing that, Shiran immediately leapt into action.

“Both I and the Youth Futures director in Afula were determined that Lisa would join the seminar no matter what,” said Shiran. “We worked together to raise enough money to pay the fee and were able to have Lisa join the seminar at the last minute, just a few days before the trip. It was really important to us that Lisa attend the seminar like the rest of the kids in her class.”

Shiran has also helped family with other financial assistance as much as possible, including food and clothing donations and connecting Lisa’s mother to social services that offer financial and emotional support.

Currently, Shiran and the local Youth Futures director are looking for a professional renovator willing to volunteer his time to upgrade Lisa’s family’s apartment to improve their living conditions. Shiran has been a force for Lisa’s family, and should other needs arise, Shiran will be there to help Lisa’s family in any way she can.

*Names have been changed for privacy

Photo courtesy Youth Futures via The Jewish Agency for Israel

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