“When I entered the ‘Families First’ program, it was actually the first time someone looked me straight in the eye and asked, ‘What do you want? What do you need? What will improve your family’s quality of life?’

“It was such a special moment for me,” says Sharon, 51, a mother of seven from the town of Kiryat Gat in southern Israel.

“Several years ago I went through a difficult divorce that tore our family apart. Working full time and running the household on my own overwhelmed me to the point that I was losing control of my kids and felt there was no responsible adult to pay attention to them. During this time, I entered the Families First program and met with a social worker and mentor who started a wonderful process that changed my life. ”

Families First assists families living in poverty through the provision of psychosocial care. Each family is provided with a social worker, mentor, and personalized plan to help define their goals and achieve them.

“I sat with Reut, the social worker, and Anna, the mentor, and we thought about what steps would be right for me and my children,” Sharon explains. “They listened to all my problems, deliberations, and struggles, including the mental health issues of two of my children and my inability to help them. After many open discussions, we came up with a suitable solution for each child.

“While the program provided for basic material needs that were missing at home, what was much more meaningful was that it helped me give my kids things I could not have dreamed of. We found therapy classes that empowered them, boosted their self-confidence, and helped them deal with their problems. I, myself, had the privilege of going to therapy and taking a writing class that helped me deal with things in a liberating way.

“I breathed a huge sigh of relief from the first moment I entered this program, and I am still breathing to this day.”