Yehuda Bar is 27-years-old and is studying industrial design at HIT in Holon. Through the Impact scholarship program, Yehuda started volunteering with United Hatzalah’s Ten Kavod project. Impact is a program for released IDF soldiers who have gone on to study in college. As part of the program, the participant is required to undertake a certain amount of volunteering hours through a registered volunteer organization throughout the year.
When Yehuda was introduced to the Ten Kavod project he immediately knew it was right for him. “I thought that through visiting the elderly I would be giving from myself to the community in the best way that I could,” Yehuda said. “I had a suspicion that I would thoroughly enjoy it.”
Yehuda visits a senior citizen named Shimon Svid, who is 78-years-old. They meet for at least 3-4 hours each week. Yehuda noticed that their relationship has grown a lot through their visits. “We each give something to one another and learn from the other person. I think that’s what makes our visits so enjoyable. For example, I help him with his physical therapy exercises and he lends me a listening ear and gives me a chance to take a break from school.”
“We have come a long way since first meeting each other in November. We were both nervous and weren’t sure what to expect. It’s not that conventional to enter an older person’s life who isn’t a family member and just spill everything to each other, learn everything about one another, and become friends in that type of setting. That visit was the start of a significant journey and was also the most memorable of them all, even to this day.”
When Yehuda visits Shimon at his house, they like to have conversations over a cup of coffee and play a game of backgammon. “We bonded over this game because it is something we both enjoy.”
With regard to his physical therapy, Yehuda helps Shimon with his different exercises and stretches to strengthen and improve his movement. “Shimon has a physical therapist come once a week to help him because it’s difficult for him to walk. I came during one of their classes to learn the exercises he does with his therapist so we could do them together. The physical therapist thought it was a great idea because Shimon must practice more than just once a week. We usually do around 10-20 minutes of combined stretches, strength exercises, walking exercises, and joint movement each visit, depending on how he’s feeling. I hope now that the weather has warmed up, that we will go out together and practice walking in the park or on the boardwalk, and then play backgammon outdoors as well.”
“I would like to thank Impact and United Hatzalah for this opportunity to both learn and give back to my community. It has been a great experience so far and I hope to continue with it even after I graduate. I don’t know yet where life will take me but I sure do hope to continue volunteering and meeting with Shimon. This has grown into something much more than a responsibility; it is a relationship and a friendship.”
Shimon Svid lives together with his wife, Esti Svid, in their home in Bat Yam. They are both in their late 70’s. Each of their three children lives in different cities in Israel and rarely visits.
Esti spoke in place of Shimon, due to Shimon’s health, and praised the organization and the project. “Shimon and I have only compliments and gratitude for United Hatzalah. Ten Kavod is an admirable organization. We are both thrilled that Yehuda comes to visit each week.”
The main reasons Shimon and Esti saw a need for Yehuda to visit were because of Shimon’s emotional state and lack of socialization. Esti said, “Shimon was in a car accident around 2 years ago, and since then, it has been hard for him to walk. He rarely goes out of the house. I think it has also affected his emotional well-being. I realized that getting out more and socializing would do him good but it was too hard for him. We went to visit some elderly clubs near us and he didn’t enjoy them. I contacted United Hatzalah because I heard about the Ten Kavod program and it was my last option to help my husband. It is so nice to see Shimon smile often and light up during their visits together. Shimon and Yehuda have great chemistry and have become instant friends.”
“When Yehuda comes, he is always so kind and including towards me, even though he is here for Shimon. He is interested in my well-being too, which is really nice. Then they usually go outside and sit on the balcony with a cup of coffee and play backgammon. Shimon enjoys playing and giving Yehuda some pointers on bettering his game.”
“I can see during their visits that Yehuda is a great friend to Shimon. Yehuda helps Shimon with his physical therapy and encourages him to keep going even when it’s hard. He even offered to bring a walker for Shimon so that they can practice walking together outside. My husband has improved a lot and we really owe it all to Yehuda.”
To support the lifesaving work of United Hatzalah, please click here: