jerusalem volunteer 224.
(photo credit: Shelly Paz)
The proportion of youth who volunteer in their community varies drastically among Israeli cities, a new study has found.
Ramat Hasharon (55 percent) and Beersheba (53%) have the highest percentages of young volunteers, according to the study released by AMEN (City Youth Volunteer), a Joint Distribution Committee-Israel and Education Ministry program.
The other top cities are Ashkelon (51%), Alfei Menashe (48.4%), Kfar Saba (47.9%), Modi'in (46.3%), Holon (45.8%), Kiryat Shmona (44.2%), Netanya (43.1%) and Ma'aleh Adumim (40.9 %).
The lowest levels of volunteering were found in Safed (9.4%) and Umm el-Fahm (9.9%).
The study covered November 2008 through February 2009.
Ronit Bar, AMEN's manager, said on Monday that the number of years the organziation has worked with a particular city accounts for those municipalities that have high levels of volunteers. Conversely, the cities that AMEN had just begun to work with have fewer volunteers, she said.
Bar also cited other reasons for the varying levels of volunteering: "If the city took to the idea. If the mayor is more interested in it," and if "all the systems are working together," such as teachers and NGOs, than a city will have higher numbers of youth volunteers.
The study was conducted in preparation for a conference on "Youth volunteering and social initiative" to take place at JDC Israel headquarters in the capital on July 3.
Jerusalem, which only has 23% of its youth volunteering, was chosen to host the conference because it has the most teenagers of any city, 100,000, in an effort to jumpstart the process of raising the number of youth volunteers, Bar said.
AMEN only began working in Jerusalem a year ago.
Volunteerism "changes life for the teenagers and life for the community. This is life to change life," Bar said.
Teenagers "feel happy when they do something for others," and "because they feel like they are one of the community," there is a decrease in violence," she said.
AMEN encourages the young people to work in something that they will find satisfying, she said. "We ask them what interests them."
The teenage participants help in areas such as road safety, the elderly, youth at risk, new immigrants and youth leadership.