Israeli President Shimon Peres has awarded the Presidential Citation for Volunteerism to the OneFamily Fund.
The award was presented at a festive ceremony at the Presidential Mansion before an audience of 1,000 people, including OneFamily staff, volunteers and victims of terrorism.
The citation reads: The Presidential Citation for Volunteers for the year 5771 is awarded to The One Family Fund for comprehensive and supportive assistance to the victims of terrorist attacks and their families.
The OneFamily Fund was established in 2001 in order to assist the victims of terrorist attacks and their families, as a result of the increase in terrorism that struck Israel with the outbreak of the Second Intifadah. The initiative for the organization was raised by Michal Belzberg, then a girl of 12, who asked her parents to cancel her Bat Mitzvah party following the attack at the Sbarro’s restaurant in Jerusalem, and to contribute the funds from the party to help the victims of terror. Her parents, Marc and Chantal, agreed to her initiative and established the organization to help victims – civilians, soldiers and their families. The organization has four centers of operation in Israel. Their main office is in Jerusalem.
The initiation of programs to help the victims of terror and their families reintegrate came about because of the rehabilitative difficulties being suffered by the victims and their families, difficulties in reintegrating into society, and the vicious circle that was created as a result, perpetuating their difficulties and limitations. The OneFamily Fund is guided by the belief that rehabilitation and integration are universal basic rights to which every person is entitled. From the day it was established, OneFamily acts to provide these rights to the victims of terror, regardless of religion or nationality. It is clear to those involved in this activity that a traumatic terrorist attack affects not only the victim himself, but also those in the broader family circle. As such, the organization’s volunteers accompany the families from the beginning of their hospitalization, or soon after the Shiva period, throughout the entire process of overcoming the injury or mourning the death, until the victim’s full reintegration into society. Understanding that terrorist attacks have long-term effects, the organization continues to guide and accompany the victims and their families a long time after their rehabilitation and reintegration has been completed, and its volunteers are always available to help.
From the day the organization was founded, more than 60 thousand supporters and donors throughout the world have been able to assist more than 2700 victims of terror and their families. Representatives and volunteers from the organization get in touch with the families immediately after a terrorist attack, and serve them as a source of emotional support. They also help them to understand the legal and social rights they are entitled to from the Ministry of Defense or the State welfare agencies as victims of terror. Because the physical and emotional difficulty in returning to full employment creates financial need, mainly among self-employed professionals, the victims are entitled to financial assistance, including mortgage and tax payments, food purchases, and more, as well as assistance in purchasing furniture or necessary therapeutic aids for a full recovery and reintegration.
The organization also helps with vocational training, payment for professional courses, scholarships for academic studies, psychological assistance and legal counsel. Together with all this, a wide range of activities are held, including weekly support gatherings, therapeutic support groups, weekend retreats, social excursions, Summer camps, a bereaved fathers’ choir, and more. The organization also runs an Adopt-A-Family program where a family or community from abroad can support a family in Israel, and assists with various memorial projects.