Updated: May 2
Students at Dror Israel’s Humanity, Society and Nature high school in Karmiel have begun a timely and meaningful volunteering project with local seniors.
At Dror Israel's Humanity, Society and Nature high school in the northern city of Karmiel, students learn the importance of community involvement. As one of the central values of the school, the students see themselves as leaders who can have a meaningful and positive impact on their city. Throughout the school year, they volunteer weekly in a variety of local projects aimed at strengthening community and improving their neighborhood. This year, in the wake of the coronavirus lockdowns, they wanted to re-shape their volunteer projects in order to respond to the changing needs of society.
The impact of social distancing measures on senior citizens has led to an increasing struggle with loneliness. As a high-risk population, most seniors have significantly limited their face-to-face social interactions. At the same time, while the world is pivoting to online meetings and platforms to meet social needs, seniors who may struggle with new and changing technology are at a severe disadvantage and often miss out on this opportunity for interaction.
Students at the school learned about the loneliness that seniors are experiencing and asked themselves what they could do to help. Together with representatives from the National Labor Union, they came up with a plan.
To begin their project, they got in touch with local seniors to schedule socially distanced meetings in their homes. In this initial visit, they taught the seniors how to download and use Zoom on their smartphone or computer. Once the seniors began to master the platform, the students set up a series of weekly online meetings. They created a mixed group of students and seniors who meet together on a Zoom call every Thursday.
One woman posted in a neighborhood Facebook group after her encounter with the students: “I’m no longer Zoom-illiterate! Kids from the Humanity, Society and Nature school came to my house as part of a volunteer project and helped me set up Zoom! They were really empathetic and asked lots of questions. In a year that has been so hard for older people, the fact that I can now watch lectures and concerts and take part in conversations is going to be so great! Hats off to them!”