A Meaningful Beit Shean Experience
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by Mabel E Koop
Mabel spent most of her life donating her time to charity. She volunteered with a variety of organizations, in Cleveland and beyond. At 75, she had slowed down a bit but her interest in doing good never changed. When she learned of Volunteer: Beit Shean, our new volunteer program that explores a different side of Israel, it was like a dream. She could take her first trip to Israel and make a meaningful contribution to the people who live in Cleveland’s sister city, where the needs are great. Mabel was ready to immerse herself in Israeli life and culture for two full weeks.
“I am ready to lend a hand in whatever manner they choose for me,” she said as she prepared for the trip. Volunteers participate in grass-roots, hands-on activities like tree plantings in city parks, street cleanings, mural paintings, and more. Many volunteers are deeply rewarded by the experience of teaching English to expand an Israeli’s language skills or working on an agricultural farm. For Mabel, living on a Kibbutz, volunteering at the food bank, and serving cookies and coffee to IDF soldiers were the most memorable moments. “You can’t replicate this experience on any tourist planned trip,” she said.
This experience was one Mabel would never forget. She had recently lost her daughter to breast cancer and on the last day of her trip, she was presented the opportunity to plant a tree in her daughter’s memory. “As my tears were falling, shovel in hand, we secured the tree in the ground,” she told us. “It was such a meaningful finish to my trip. I owe a great thanks to the Federation for this gesture.”