The Butterfly Effect!Reflections on my Aliyah and the Growth of Kav L’Noar
It all starts with an idea- BUT YOU CAN NEVER TELL WHERE AN IDEA WILL END UP! IDEAS SPREAD AND GROW.
As I recently walked the streets of Jerusalem from my home to my office, I noticed a butterfly. A sign of Spring and Pesach coming was my first thought. My mind wandered and I thought about The Butterfly Effect, the concept that small causes can generate huge outcomes.
My wife and I came on Aliyah in 2002, joining our three daughters and their families who were already here. After settling into life in Israel, I began to connect with other mental health professionals in the Anglo community in the Jerusalem area. I was surprised to hear about disaffected youth, disconnection of teens from their families, at-risk behavior, and kids out of school and on the streets. I asked myself: Could I create something that would address these challenges that were not being provided by the existing agencies?
I founded Kav L’Noar with the mission to establish a crisis intervention and prevention program for the English speaking community. KLN began in 2004 as a referral service to provide culturally sensitive counseling for parents and teens. A mentoring program was added to provide positive role models for troubled teens. From 20 families and 8 teens in 2005, we doubled our numbers by 2006 and realized that to best serve the community, we needed to create a family center with our own in-house therapists. In 2007 we moved to our present location on Keren Hayesod. As the number of families seeking our services grew, we recognized that outreach to the community would enhance the success of our programs and interventions. Parenting workshops were added to our list of services along with community education lectures on cutting edge topics insightful to family life and improved parenting. By 2009 our unique, holistic family-systems model of intervention whose goal was to connect the child, the parents and the school to work together began to attract native Israeli families.
At around this time, our Staff began to notice a pattern with the children in many of our families. Risk issues such as bullying, learning disabilities, or social and emotional deficits that may have been missed at home were showing up in school. We decided to reach out to schools to educate them about our programs and to suggest that they recommend KLN to the parents of at-risk youth in their schools. From this initial cooperation with several schools the first pilot project of our School Group Mentoring Program was created in 2011.
As I thought more about the butterfly, I contemplated the metamorphosis of Kav L’Noar from what began as a small idea in 2004 that, in almost 12 years, has impacted well over 1,000 families thereby enabling each family member to face the future without continued need for professional involvement. Our newer School Mentoring Program, which provides teens with a year-long weekly group experience helping them to address and overcome social and emotional challenges, is currently running in 18 schools and is recognized by the National Program for Children and Youth at Risk. We were recently chosen to implement our Community Mentoring Program for teens in a Jerusalem community challenged by many extreme at risk issues including poverty, abuse, single-parent households, lack of discipline and crime. This program is especially noteworthy because it represents Israel Government's first recognition of Kav L'Noar's work their partnering with us in underwriting a portion of our costs.
The approaching holiday of Pessach commemorates the freedom to make choices and take control of one's life that was gifted to the Jewish people as they left Egyptian slavery. These gifts represent the core of our mission to help families and their teens feel empowered to overcome their challenges. May all of us successfully confront our challenges with resilience and hope for the future.