Can you imagine what a day in the life of a Yad Sarah branch looks like? Now you don’t have to – join us as we take you through a day at the bustling Yad Sarah branch in Beersheva.

As the sun rises over Beersheva, the largest city in southern Israel, 250 alarm clocks ring as Yad Sarah branch volunteers prepare for a new day.

Each one streams through the doors of the recently renovated branch to nine departments serving hundreds of people per day. They’re part of a team of 400 volunteers who keep the branch running as it services thousands of individuals.

Let’s take a closer look.

250 alarm clocks ring as Yad Sarah branch volunteers prepare for a new day.

Galit arrives at the equipment rental desk to bor- row a wheelchair. Lynne, the volunteer managing the station, greets her with a smile and describes all the different types of wheelchairs available – she is surprised by the amount of variety! When Lynne started volunteering with Yad Sarah, she had a three-session training course to learn about Yad Sarah’s equipment options but also how to deal with questions and speak to everyone who comes in, no matter what they’re going through in their lives. For Galit, Lynne’s warm smile and kind words mattered just as much as knowing which wheelchair would best suit her elderly father waiting at home.

As Galit chats with Lynne, another client comes in to return a bed that his mother had borrowed from Yad Sarah. “Thank you again for being so accommodating,” he states. “Anytime,” Lynne says with a smile as she takes the bed to the back for sanitation.

Galit turns to the man returning the bed and says, “This is my first time borrowing equipment from Yad Sarah – how was your experience?” He glanc- es at Galit and smiles. “You’re in great hands! My father got out of the hospital on a Friday after- noon, and we urgently needed a bed delivered and set up at his home. One of Yad Sarah’s volun- teers drove out to my father's home with the bed, and set it up, all before Shabbat began.”

On Galit’s way out of the building, she hears peals of laughter from a room down the hall. Taking just a moment to check it out, she sees a group of 40 people sitting around a table, play- ing a game – and clearly having a great time!

“What is this program? And how old do you have to be to qualify?” she asks the program leader.

“That is our Day Rehabilitation program and we accept participants of any age,” smiles the woman. “But most of our participants are 67 or older since that’s when State services for them stop.”

“My father would love it,” muses Galit. “But he’s too ill to come in, unfortunately.”

“We have other ser- vices he could use!” notes the program about Yad Sarah’s equipment options but also how to deal with questions and speak to everyone who comes in, no matter what they’re going through in their lives. For Galit, leader eagerly. “We have an outreach pro- gram for individuals who are homebound. We call to check in on them, offer support, and engage in conversation. It’s usually greatly appreciated. Some of our volunteers here, including Jeremy, who began volunteer- ing during the pandemic, even started visit- ing people at home and doing activities with them.”

“And of course, we have our life stories pro- gram, which pairs a volunteer with someone like your father, to hear about his history. The story is written up as a biography and turned into a book - a lovely memento for him and the rest of your family to keep.”

Galit is lost for words, but the gratitude in her eyes says it all.

As she exits the branch into the bright sunlight of south Israel, she holds the door open for a Bedouin man from nearby Rahat, who has brought a walker back for repairs.

He meets David Conroy, a 13-year veteran volun- teer of the branch’s equipment repair department. David knows exactly what to do for the walker, as he borrows one from Yad Sarah, himself! But, if any translation is needed, the branch has many Bedouin volunteers available to help. In fact, Yad Sarah’s ser- vices are so popular that a new branch in Rahat may open in the future.

Meanwhile, other rooms in the center are bustling with activity.

In one, an elderly couple meets with a pro bono lawyer to review recent insurance claims.

In another, a support group for caregivers meets to discuss the difficulties of the role and give each other encouragement.

Another support group, this one for individuals deal- ing with chronic illnesses, meets across the hall.

As we roam the busy halls of this 37,000-square-foot building, we may even bump into groups of high school students learning about volunteerism or a cohort of medical students observing Yad Sarah vol- unteers’ professionalism with bedside manner and patient interaction.

That professionalism comes in handy when volun- teers are providing equipment to individuals who are homebound. Sometimes, these deliveries allow people to be in the comfort of their homes for their last days. Other times, it helps someone re- cover more quickly than waiting for a bed in a local hospital. In all cases, the volunteers who bring and install the necessary items are always much more than a delivery service. They provide a listening ear and sympathetic presence to people going through tough times.

For example, Yad Sarah volunteers were recently called to a man’s home to install railings in his shower. When they arrived at the apartment, the volunteers noticed that the place was dirty and falling apart – there were piles of clothes lying around the home and the cabinets were falling off the walls. They installed the shower railings, then came back with the tools to clean up the man’s home – they repaired his cabinets, painted his walls, and cleaned the floors.

A few weeks later, a volunteer stopped by to check in on the man, but before she could get to his front door, his neighbor stopped her. “You have changed my friend’s life,” the neighbor happily shared. The volunteer quickly learned that the man had begun wearing nice clothes and that his sister had recently come to visit – now that his apartment was more livable.

They provide a listening ear and sympathetic presence to people going through tough times.”

To avoid needing home equipment in the first place, Yad Sarah also runs two preventive programs. One is our emergency alarm response service, staffed around the clock by volunteer respondents. The volunteers not only answer incoming calls but place check-ins as well. Recently, when one man didn’t answer his check-up call, Yad Sarah contacted his municipality at 11 o’clock at night, and together they went to his apartment. When the man didn’t answer the door, they called the police, who broke down his door. Upon entering his apartment, the volunteers found that the man had fallen and was unable to access his emergency alarm. Without Yad Sarah’s attention, this man likely would have died.

The other is a pilot program for fall prevention, which uses balance and strength exercises, and the Balance Tutor Biofeedback Rehabilitation System. These help individuals improve balance and re- duce falls. Since 1000 people fall in Israel per day, this program could one day provide tremendous health benefits.

As we conclude our bird’s-eye journey around the branch, we catch snippets of conversation from volunteers and visitors alike:

“Has your daughter had her baby yet?” a volunteer says into the phone as she conducts a homebound outreach call. “Mazel Tov!” she exclaims after a short pause. “Let her know that she can borrow a breast pump or crib from Yad Sarah if she needs it!”

“My son broke his leg and needs crutches, but we can’t afford to buy a new pair,” a man explains to a volunteer at the lending center. “I don’t know what size he needs, but can we borrow a pair from Yad Sarah?”

At Yad Sarah's Beersheva branch, you get a little taste of everything. With the wide range of services — from homebound outreach to legal services and rental equipment to life stories — there is something for everyone. We hope you enjoyed your time at the branch – come visit us in person for a live tour!

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