“The secret is simple. I have never run from responsibility. Every day I ask myself, not how well I did yesterday, but how I can help tomorrow.”
The founder of Yad Sarah, Uri Lupolianski, was speaking with a young student, who had just finished a fascinating, interactive tour – The Yad Sarah Experience – at Yad Sarah House in Jerusalem. The student had asked him for the secret of Yad Sarah’s dramatic success.
Yad Sarah has become a model of volunteerism, a leader in offering myriad social services to every household in Israel. In operation for over four decades, Yad Sarah is a senior member of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and the recipient of many awards.
As of today, Yad Sarah assists about one million people every year. Roughly 7,000 volunteers serve the Israeli public in the various aid departments and in the 110 Yad Sarah service centers throughout the country. The branches offer 7,689 items of medical and rehabilitative equipment for vital home care, thus saving the Israel government $3 billion in hospitalization costs. Yad Sarah’s volunteer drivers make about 130,000 trips a year to pick up people with disabilities and bring them literally anywhere they want to go. Yad Sarah’s day rehabilitation programs help those who have suffered a stroke to return to normal life, and the exhibition and guidance centers offer tips on how to improve quality of life at home and at work. The Caregiver’s Support Center assists in a variety of ways families caring for sick, disabled, or recuperating loved ones and Yad Riva provides low cost legal aid for seniors.
In addition, Yad Sarah volunteers operate the first and largest emergency call center in Israel. At the touch of a button, dedicated and highly trained volunteers connect subscribers in distress with the help they need – emergency services, medical attention, or a family member. In the Frenkel Emergency Medical Center, specialist doctors and other staff provide compassionate and professional urgent care. Yad Sarah’s geriatric dentistry clinics also provide dental care to the homebound with the help of special mobile dental equipment. All of these services, along with the Beit Helena Play Center for children with learning disabilities, the Fitness Center, the Family Center, the Institute for Aging, the Life Stories Department, and the Department for Holocaust Survivors, provide a warm and comforting place to help all individuals function at home and in their community.
Forty-five years ago, a young Jerusalem high school teacher with a growing family needed to borrow a vaporizer from a neighbor for a sick child. Discovering that such devices were hard to find, he bought a few to lend to others, and people started dropping off similar items at his home that they no longer needed. This was the beginning of Yad Sarah.
Rabbi Lupolianski and his wife, Michal, did not even begin to envision the organization that would develop over the next several decades. The Lupolianskis did not think of the largest aid organization in the country, they did not think of international influence and global recognition. They just wanted to take responsibility.
This responsibility became Yad Sarah’s motto even when it grew larger by the year. When necessary, we are there. Whatever people need, we provide. Whoever needs help, we respond.
Yad Sarah is constantly adding to its already large spectrum of services in response to the needs of Israeli society.