75 Nechama has a husband and six children, and now, thanks to STRIVE, she also has a job.

Her parents immigrated to Israel from Iran and settled in Hebron, where she was born. As a teenager, her family moved to Jerusalem where she finished her studies. When she was 22, she met her husband, who was serving in the army at the time. They were married shortly afterwards.

Soon after finishing school, Nechama gave birth to her first child. “When I had my first son, there was so much happiness, it filled the house. And that’s what I wanted. That’s what I hoped to do with my life, marry and have children, and thank God, I did it.”

Nechama focused on raising her children while her husband did his best to support the family. He worked part time as a car mechanic but never found a steady job.

But what finally pushed her to find a job was something her son told her: “He said that he didn’t want to be like us. That we don’t have meaningful work, and that’s not a good example.”

His words motivated her to act, and when a friend gave Nechama a brochure for STRIVE, she decided to apply. STRIVE, a JDC program that equips “chronically unemployed” adults with skills that make them employable, is modeled on a program that was developed in East Harlem, NY in 1985 and has been successfully adapted in Israel.

When Nechama was accepted into the program she was thrilled, although a bit nervous about taking on something so challenging. During the intensive program, she learned how to use a computer and the Internet, how to write a resume and how to send it out to look for a job. Nechama says that STRIVE gave her a new outlook. “I got a lot of tools for life. I’ve changed, I can feel it.”

Now Nechama works for Hanefesh, an organization that helps the mentally ill live independently at home, and integrates them into the community instead of keeping them in the hospital.

She can afford to pay off her debts and to offer her children support if they need it. She’s happier with her life because she can give back to the community, and because she has become a role model for her children, who are impressed to see her working hard and succeeding.

“I believe that if I do the right thing, it will spread. When one person does good, it’s good for everyone.”

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