Last month we sadly parted with Lady Shirley Lowy, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. But not many knew that she was also a grandmother for hundreds of foster children in Israel through her work with Orr Shalom for Children and Youth at-Risk in Israel. Lady Lowy was known for her philanthropy, especially in connection with child education and child welfare both in Australia and Israel.
The Lowy family in a statement said: "Her care and concern extended beyond her growing family to the wider community where she quietly launched philanthropic initiatives to help those in need. Having come from humble beginnings, she searched for new ways to improve the lives of others."
Shirley and Frank Lowy were first introduced to Orr Shalom in Israel by Aliza Olmert, Orr Shalom's former Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. Frank and Shirley funded the opening of the Kiryat Ono Foster Center in 2007, which currently provides therapy and support to over 200 children every month. Orr Shalom Vice-President Naomi Liberman warmly recalled, “Her generosity enabled Orr Shalom to establish our Foster Center, Beit Yaacov Zeev, named after her father, and Beit Golda, a Therapeutic Family Group Home in Jerusalem." Beit Golda, one of Orr Shalom's 21 Therapeutic Family Group Homes, was named after Shirley’s mother. The Homes, which care for 10-12 children each, are an alternative to traditional residential solutions, providing more individualized guidance and therapeutic support.
“The kids of Beit Golda warmly remember ‘Savta Shirley’ and the love and kindness she always brought with her. She would come and bake cookies and was extremely involved.” They say it takes a village to raise one child. Raising 1,400 abused and neglected children and young adults requires much more. In a Herculean effort of care and mutual responsibility, the Lowy family joined Orr Shalom in ensuring that these children received the better and brighter future that they deserved.
So dear was Lady Lowy to the children in the Beit Golda that they used to make her happy birthday cards every year. The children living in Beit Golda received personal holiday gifts from the Lowy couple each holiday, and several times a year the couple would come into the house to personally distribute them. This is a beautiful legacy that lives on in the Homes. To this day, every holiday, the Lowy family still supports the children with gifts. They go above and beyond, by also encouraging and enabling children to nurture their specific unique talents.
“One of the most incredible stories I recall is of a young boy in the group home. On one of the Lowy’s visits, the couple caught sight of this young boy playing the piano. He had no formal music education, but the Lowys, recognizing the great natural musical talent the boy seemed to have, insisted on funding piano lessons for him, and he is now a concert pianist,” recalls Naomi. “These children were much more than a philanthropic project for the Lowy family. They genuinely cared about the well-being of each of these children.”
Today, Orr Shalom provides support and guidance for 600 foster families, operates 21 Therapeutic Family Group Homes for 230 children (ages 8-18), and runs six Emergency Baby Shelters, providing immediate residential solutions for babies and children up to 5 years old. Orr Shalom's flagship initiative, Beating the Odds, supports graduates ages 18-27 years old who are just beginning to enter independent life. "Our graduates grow up to be leaders of Israel’s society. Their difficulties growing up mold them to be survivors and winners and they learn to give back", explains Naomi. “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing our children - who were saved from abusive and dangerous environments - grow up to be strong, healthy, and driven young adults. Lady Lowy shared that vision and played a huge role in helping Orr Shalom support these children on their journey to recovery.”