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How We Make a Difference - October 2005

It was a sweeter new year than it otherwise might have been for many families in some of Israel’s most impoverished areas, thanks in large part to the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) – Federation’s overseas partner agency.  The JDC has established a Volunteer Coordination Support System called MATOV, that helps Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and several NGO’s work together, to ensure that as many needy people as possible get help.

In previous years, special holiday food packages were supplied by NGO’s within certain communities that operated independently from each other, off of different lists.  As a result, these organizations often overlapped in whom they served; other families were left without any assistance.

"Distributing food is power.  Nobody wishes to share lists - not the NGOs among themselves and not with the municipality," explained the JDC coordinator of the MATOV program. "Our contribution, with our reputation as the ‘honest broker’, was to be able to bring everyone together around one table."

MATOV maps local needs and the organizations and services who utilize volunteers, and then brings voluntary and local government agencies together to pool resources, coordinate activities and develop new initiatives. This teamwork within the non-profit sector becomes increasingly essential in order to fill the void that is being created by the increase in needs of Israel’s citizens as the ability of the Israeli government to meet them is being eroded.

MATOV is helping to increase local communities' capacity to care for people in need by:

  • Improving the professionalism of non-profit organizations;
  • Strengthening the cooperation among organizations that utilize volunteers;
  • Maximizing the potential of volunteers; and 4) Increasing the number of volunteers who are active in the community.

MATOV has already begun building community networks and infrastructure for the long term. In the Israeli city of Netanya, for example, once the first food distribution was successfully made for the High Holidays last year, the community was able to duplicate the process on their own for Passover. Or-Akiva and Sderot also piloted the Rosh Hashana food distribution last year.

Currently operating in ten local municipalities — Afula, Arad, Dimona, Hadera, Kiryat Gat, Migdal Ha-Emek, Netanya, Or-akiva, Sderot, and Yokneam — MATOV’s unifying hand is helping to ensure that all families in need in Israel receive adequate food and resources with which to fully celebrate the Jewish holidays.

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