Federation is proud to support a program in Sha’ar HaNegev which assists elderly residents who suffer from feelings of loneliness and isolation. Malka’s story is an example of how your Federation dollars impact lives.
My name is Malka Shoef. I’m 79 years old, was born in Turkey, and immigrated to Israel in 1948. I am married, have three children, 10 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I lived in Rishon LeZion for 50 years, where I worked as a dental assistant at a community health clinic. I enjoyed assisting children and adults very much.
I originally wanted to be a registered nurse, but our financial situation wasn't good, so we decided to get straight to work and support our family. In 2013, we moved to the new neighborhood at Kibbutz Bror Hayil to be closer to our son during our retirement years.
Getting acclimated was very difficult, especially socially. I didn't have any friends like I did in Rishon LeZion and felt removed from other people.
In 2017, the Yachdav project organized a Table Games social group. It meets every Monday from 10:00-Noon. The group started out with 12 people – now there are more than 20.
When we received a request from a group of elderly people with dementia to join our group, there was opposition. I understood that this was an opportunity for giving back, so I volunteered to guide this new group to integrate it with our existing group.
Today, we have another seven members accompanied by their caretakers who show up each week for two hours and enjoy every minute! I make sure to form a personal connection with them, remind them of meetings, make phone calls on birthdays, and make sure everyone arrives to the group’s meeting.
This new group meets together to play Bingo, and enjoy coffee and cake. It has been tremendously gratifying for all of us. We see great improvement in their moods and even in the physical and mental condition for some. They call me asking if this week’s meeting will take place, so it seems that the weekly activity is etched in their memories. Furthermore, in our meetings, they enjoy themselves so much, that they dismiss the recess of several minutes in order to go on to the next game.
They’ve nicknamed me “Meidele.” They call me on my birthday, and ask how I am when I don’t show up for a meeting. I’m also their friend and I feel their connection with me. The feeling is mutual and it does all of us a lot of good.
I’ve made three good friends since participating in this Table Games Social Group. They happen to be guiding our group. We work together in full cooperation and harmony. We get together outside of the Table Games Social Group and go to movies or attend the Yachdav Club. I am very thankful to Yachdav and our friends in San Diego for helping us.
As told to Roni Sari, Yachdav Social Worker