Women's non-profit hit hard by break-in

Theft of computer equipment threatens welfare-to-work program.

A non-profit organization that helps unemployed women return to the workforce is in danger of shutting down, after a break-in at its center in south Tel Aviv last week resulted in the theft of NIS 80,000 worth of computer equipment integral to the program's efforts. The Jaffa Institute's food distribution center - which assists needy families in and around south Tel Aviv - was broken into last Tuesday night, dealing a heavy blow to the non-profit organization and a possibly fatal blow to one of it's programs - From Welfare to Well-Being (FWTW) - a comprehensive "skills for work" training program for women. Many of the women on the program are struggling single mothers who have been out of the workforce for a substantial amount of time. The food distribution center was part of the overall FWTW program, as women who take part in it also work in the center - gaining real work experience while helping their communities. The other part of the program, in which the women become proficient in a number of professional fields, revolves around the use of the center's computers. FWTW spokeswoman Daphna Yeshua-Katz told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the "skills for work" program relied almost solely on the use of Internet programs and computer software in its effort to provide the women with workplace skills ranging from certified telemarketing and receptionist skills to mastery of basic English. "But now that we don't have any computers, the women can't continue with their work," she said. "It's really a hard hit." The break-in netted 11 computers along with expensive software, and the program's organizers are at a loss as to how the equipment will be replaced. Already reeling from budgetary restraints related to the global financial crisis, Yeshua-Katz said the break-in might be the final straw for the program. "This couldn't have happened at a worse time," she said. "We literally have no money to buy new computers, and at this point, the loss has brought the program to a standstill." The program is in its second year, after the initial course proved highly successful. "Last year we had 12 women, and they came into our center, sat at the computers and became proficient in their various professional fields. They were all placed into the workforce at the end of the year, and based on that success, we had high hopes for our second session." Police are continuing to investigate the burglary, but no suspects have been apprehended thus far. "If it was a better time financially, we could find ways to recover internally," Yeshua-Katz continued. "But because of all the various problems in the global market - inflation, the low dollar, all of the various financial factors that are going on right now, we're not going to be able to continue the program without assistance from outside." Yeshua-Katz added a plea to the public. "Anything can help, and if you can give anything, we'd be extremely grateful," she said. Those wishing to donate can find more information at www.jaffainstitute.org, or call 03-680-3000.