Social empowerment NGO to close 5 branches

Charity organization providing services to underprivileged hurt by lack of funding brought about by economic crisis.

chairty organization 311 R (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
chairty organization 311 R
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Five local branches of the social and economic empowerment organization Yedid are set to close their doors in the coming weeks after the non-profit organization announced Wednesday that it was facing a serious financial crisis in light of the global economic recession, which has seen many of its international donor sources dry up over the last three years.
“I am heartbroken and I feel powerless that we have to do this but if we are to make it to the end of this year without incurring a deficit then this is the only option,” commented Yedid’s General Manager Sari Revkin.
RELATED:Israelis turn homes into restaurants to help the poorUS federations to be model for Israeli fund-raising body
Established in 1997, Yedid aims to promote social and economic justice through its network of Citizens' Rights Centers in underprivileged and marginalized communities throughout Israel.
It currently runs 22 branches across the country, which provide people living below the poverty line with essential information about their rights and benefits and also provides them legal advice.
According to information provided by the NGO, centers in Dimona, Sderot, Ashkelon, Haifa and Kiryat Shmona will close at the end of June, leaving those looking for services such as legal aid and social or economic advice with no choice but to travel to centers in neighboring towns.
Revkin said that Yedid clients from the cities where its branches are closing have already been calling to ask where they can go to find help.
“A person who is forced to spend NIS30-50 in order to travel from where they live to another city in order to obtain legal advice will likely think twice about it and most probably turn down the opportunity for a better future,” she said, adding that a growing number of NGOs were facing similar financial crises but were “too ashamed” to talk about it in public.
Revkin said the situation had gradually deteriorated since the onset of the economic crisis and together with the [Bernie] Madoff Affair had meant that large foundations and other sources had either closed their doors completely or slashed their funding for projects in Israel. She also said that government funding for the organization had been drastically reduced over the last two years and the low exchange rate of the dollar was another factor.
Previously funded by a collection of large US Jewish Federations and private foundations, Yedid estimates that its funding has come up NIS 1 million short this year.
Earlier this month, employees were notified that their salaries would also be cut and the NGO estimates that some 10,000 families that utilize its services will be affected by the closure.
“Again and again residents of the periphery are hurt,” wrote the organization in a press statement. “Not only that the economic growth does not reach them, now even the ability to deal with their financial distress or find the tools to break out of the poverty cycle are becoming narrower because non-profit and social rights organizations are weakening too.”
“The government and the business sector must understand that we are not just talking about struggling philanthropy but about an investment in Israeli society,” it said.