Friday, July 15, 2011

A Word from the Director: 7/15/2011

Visiting Aish Tamid these days, you will see many new faces. Not only do we have some new boys coming to hang out, but we are excited to introduce our new volunteer, Josh Shapiro. Josh was a track and field coach at Arcadia High School for six years. In that time, he mentored numerous teens on and off the field, building their self- esteem. Now, he continues to use his background as a coach to help teens through fun, outdoor experiences. Our boys have already connected very positively with Josh, and we are looking forward to having him create some programs on life skills building for Aish Tamid.

B”H, we continue to successfully refer both boys and girls to local therapists. There are some excellent mental health professionals in our community and we welcome their involvement with Aish Tamid. Several of them have already contacted us looking to get involved in our work with at-risk youth, and we appreciate their offers of assistance. In the near future, we hope to put together a list of such resources available to the community and encourage these dedicated professionals to be in touch with our office.

As our organization has grown, we have not only built a name for ourselves within the greater Los Angeles Jewish community, but we have been contacted by organizations on the East Coast to collaborate with them in creating specialized educational opportunities for teens. This is exciting as we are always looking for ways to network with organizations similar to our own and share ideas that have worked in the past. We pray that “a problem shared is a problem solved.”

It has been particularly heartwarming to witness several occurrences over the past few weeks that point to the Aish Tamid community the boys have created among themselves. We repeatedly hear from them that Aish Tamid is their “home away from home” as they come at all hours of the day until we finally have to ask them to leave and lock the doors late at night. But we are also discovering that they are sharing positive experiences and programs outside of the Drop-In Center as well. One boy was attending a Tae Kwon-Do class that he enjoyed, so he invited a few friends to join him and now there is a group that goes together. This week, one of our boys had his bike stolen. In a show of solidarity and support, several of his friends got together, successfully found the thief, confronted him, and had the bike returned! This camaraderie and feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves is an important part of their maturity and growth.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

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