March 2020 Newsletter

Best Big Brother in Today’s Difficult Circumstances

Even under normal circumstances, life is not easy for the 40 youth of JOIN’s Big Brother program in the southern city of Ofakim. Coming from very poor, mostly dysfunctional or emotionally absent Russian-immigrant families, home is not the warm and cozy, supportive and encouraging, positive and secure environment where children joyfully blossom and thrive. Now mostly confined to home, the pressure and estrangement becomes noxious.

Now mostly confined to home due to Ministry of Health efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic, the friendship, support and listening ear of their Big Brother calms a volatile situation by releasing tensions and injecting positivity. As classes and group gatherings have been banned, the one-on-one meetings offer an outlet and stimulation. Where even these meetings were curtailed, the ongoing calls of support and caring help these youth to weather the difficult circumstances. Thanks, Bro!

Findings from Big Brother’s Evaluation

JOIN recently conducted an evaluation of its Big Brother program. Participating children were found to lack healthy role models, face excessive pressure, and felt estranged and disrespected. Universally, Big Brothers programs are a proven model to provide academic and emotional support to youth from troubled environments to manage and thrive academically, socially and behaviorally.The evaluation of JOIN’s program in Ofakim clearly demonstrated specific and measurable powerful impact in each of the three established goals:

  1. Increased academic performance
  2. Increased sense of emotional security, peer acceptance and positivity
  3. Decreased expression of negative behaviors and beliefs

Here are specifics:

  • Boys with a history of behavioral issues, including hitting and aggressiveness, have significantly calmed.
  • Boys from dysfunctional families have become more emotionally grounded, which the families attribute to their regular contact with an adult mentor.
  • Boys carrying emotional burdens and loneliness found a mature person to share and unburden their issues.
  • At least three boys were not evicted from school only due to this Big Brother program and only on condition that they continue in the program.
  • All 40 children showed a general academic and emotional benefit from participating. Four families specifically and independently noted that their sons developed a pronounced desire for learning and greater engagement in school and academics as a whole.

Mira Veisbin, a highly regarded lay-leader and professional therapist of the community, expressed that just to avoid with these children the terrible direction that many of their older siblings took — crime (and jail), drugs, unemployment — is the greatest indication of success!

Tremendous thank yous to the Shlomo & Cindy Silvian Foundation and the Keren Ester Foundation for their generous support toward launching the 2019 and 2020 programs!

We welcome your support to enable the sustenance and expansion of this demonstrably ultra-successful program!

JOIN is excited to welcome two new members to our Young Leadership Board, Idan Baum and Eli Hanovitch and our new Development Intern, Danielle Eisenberg!