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Helping The Old and the Blind – Ten Kavod Herzliya – Nati Gazibat and Shlomo Cohen
Ten Kavod Herzliya – Nati Gazibat and Shlomo Cohen
Nati Gazibat is a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT from Herzliya who is fully devoted to helping others. Around four years ago, Nati retired from his long-time job of working for his family business and decided to spend all of his time doing what he loves- helping others. “I do what I can to help the people in my neighborhood including rushing to emergencies whenever I get an emergency alert. It’s really important for me to help others out of my love for it. Helping others isn’t about being flashy and boastful.”
Nati joined United Hatzalah 15 years ago as a volunteer EMT. “At that time, the organization had just started and began to expand throughout Israel,” Nati said. “The branch in the Herzliya region where I live had just been introduced and I was eager to join the lifesaving group. Our team is very active and diverse. More and more secular Jews joined the organization once it was brought to our area and we were all so serious about it, going from emergency to emergency every day no matter what we were doing when we got the calls.”
“Even before the Ten Kavod project started, I was taking care of my grandfather, a holocaust survivor. His family lived in Russia and survived by hiding in the forests with a group of partisans. Eventually, my grandfather joined the Russian army and fought against the Nazis. After the war, he made aliyah to Israel with his family and passed away years later at the age of 94. My grandfather and father went through a lot in their lives, so I always made sure that they got the support that they needed. It was important to me to help them if they needed it and listen to them when they needed to talk about something.
“Therefore, when the head of Ten Kavod in the Herzliya branch turned to me a few years ago and asked if I would like to join the project, I immediately said yes. I feel like this just came naturally to me. I am comfortable helping an elderly person because I did so for many years for my grandfather. I think tending to him and keeping him company also helped me realize how important being there for the elderly is. Because of them, we are here, so we must give back to them. The same is for any other elderly person in our neighborhood- we must look after them and make sure that they are doing well.
“I was paired up with a lovely man named Shlomo Cohen to meet with each week as part of Ten Kavod. He is legally blind and doesn’t hear very well either. He lives in Herzliya with his wife and guide dog. We meet each Monday at around 10:00 a.m, until anywhere from around 12:00-2:00 p.m. I don’t like to limit my time with him and leave promptly after each meeting because I think that the time I spend at his house is relative to his needs. For example, this past year his bed broke so I spent most of the afternoon fixing it. I also made sure everything else around the house was in good shape. It took time, but I was happy to do it.
“Each visit I start with a short medical exam to make sure that Shlomo is healthy and has been taking his daily medications and such. He doesn’t leave the house much because he is blind so things like this are harder for him, so we usually go out for a walk together when I come to visit. It’s nice to get out of the house for fresh air, too. We have a list of things that he needs to get done like going to the mall to pick up medications and going to the vet for his dog. In his house, I will often put in a load of his laundry, maybe have some coffee together, and I give him time to talk and share how he’s doing.
“Each meeting with Shlomo is so meaningful and memorable. I will always try to help him in any way that I can and with whatever he needs. It’s so rewarding helping someone else, giving him emotional support, medical treatment, and having conversations with him. We always enjoy our time together.
“A few weeks ago, I suffered from a stroke. Then a little after that, during recovery, I was sick with the coronavirus. This extended my recovery a little, but thankfully I am doing much better since then. I am in rehabilitation each day and I hope to return to being myself really soon.
“However, because of this, for the past few weeks, we have not been visiting together at our weekly meeting. It breaks my heart that there isn’t anyone else that can go over to his house to make sure that he’s doing okay while I’m out of service. We have grown very close and it’s sad that I can’t visit at the moment. My phone is always on and available to receive calls, so we converse over the phone, but it’s not the same. Each meeting was very productive. Like picking up his medications and doing the physical medical exam, it’s not something we can do over the phone. I just hope we can go back to normal soon.
“It’s important for me to mention that the more people volunteering for this organization, the better. So friends, please join and help the senior citizens of your communities.”
Shlomo Cohen is 70-years-old and lives in Hod Hasharon near Herzliya. He was born in Israel and lived in Kfar Saba as he was growing up. Shlomo is currently married and has five children who also live in Israel and come and visit him and his wife every once in a while. Shlomo worked in a TV lab for many years until becoming a reflexologist. He has since retired.
Shlomo spoke about his Ten Kavod experience and said, “Nati helps me so much. Even by coming just once a week, we pack in list of errands that I need to run and get them all done in the two hours or so that he’s here with me. There’s a lot I cannot do, unfortunately, because I am blind, but Nati always makes sure everything is taken care of for me. We go to the doctors’ office, the bank, the post office, then we’ll take a break and have a cup of coffee at a café. Sometimes at home, Nati will help me pay my bills over the phone.
“He’s just such a great person with a special heart. Sometimes, on his way to my house on Mondays, there will be some sort of emergency that Nati is called to, and he’ll rush to help. It’s really incredible. He’ll tell me all about it afterward and it makes me so proud and happy to hear about the things he does and the stories of the people that he’s helped. To this day, it amazes me how he helps so many people and spends his life giving to others as much as he can.
“He has such a good soul and is simply a gentleman. I think that’s why we just had an unspoken close connection with each other. We immediately connected and have a great friendship.
“I am so sad about his situation right now that he had the stroke, but I wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he gets better soon. I’ve spoken to him since entering rehabilitation, and he seems to be doing better, but still has a way to go until he makes a full recovery.
“Thank you to United Hatzalah and Ten Kavod for including me in this program and to Nati for being such a great volunteer. Ten Kavod’s message of kindness is so strong and they do incredible things. There’s really nothing bad anyone can say about it. It has brought me so much happiness.”
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