A few months ago, I came to Israel to volunteer in ADI, a residential, educational, rehabilitative, and medical facility for children with complex disabilities. I came to volunteer in ADI because it has been my dream to be a registered nurse and I have been working really hard in getting all my pre-requisite classes in order to apply to a nursing program.

Because getting into a nursing program in my area is so competitive, part of the recommended preparation to increase the chances of being accepted to a program is to volunteer. Since I love Israel so much, I decided that there was no better place for me to do my volunteer hours than in my favorite place in the whole wide world. I thought I would shoot two birds with one stone: spend time getting to know Israel and gain experience in the field I want to make a career in.

I did not imagine how much this experience would change my life. I have learned so much from the kids and staff at ADI. Specifically, I am privileged to have learned so much from their amazing nurses and caregivers. I am constantly impressed by how they strive to provide better care to the kiddos and how they support each other during their workday.

“This is an experience of a lifetime!”

Time after time, these wonderful souls fill my heart with joy, inspiration, and support. I am so blessed to get to know them and to volunteer in ADI. This experience has totally confirmed for me that this is really the field I want to work in, which is why it was extra special and exciting when I received the news today that I was accepted into my first-choice nursing program! I am so looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life, although I am also very sad that this means I will need to leave ADI in the next couple months so I can continue school.

As I gave the news to the staff at ADI that I sent in my application and that I was anxiously awaiting the response, they ALL said with such confidence, “Well… I know you will get accepted. I’m going to miss you! Go study, and then you better come back!!” It made me feel so special!

The good news is especially welcome during these uncertain times as the whole world deals with COVID-19. For me the most difficult aspect of this has been that I am so far away from my family and dogs, and that I can’t leave the house to explore Jerusalem anymore. My favorite thing to do after my shift at ADI every day was to wander the streets of Jerusalem in search of a new museum or adventure.

Now it is imperative that I and anyone else who goes to work or volunteer at ADI stay home as much as possible because we cannot risk being infected with COVID-19 and then taking it to ADI. Our kiddos are very sensitive, and many are ‘immunocompromised’, therefore the risk is too great for them. We are here to provide them with the best care, and that now spills over into our lives outside of the ADI building because we must keep ourselves healthy to keep them healthy. Basically, it is the same anyone would do for their own families, which is fitting for me, since the people of ADI are like my family in Israel.

ADI has done all they can to keep us safe and encourage us during this pandemic. A few examples are that they give us constant updates on any new regulations we should be aware of, provide PPE so that we can keep ourselves and the residents healthy, organize transportation for us to get to and from work so that we are not exposed to the virus on public transportation or while walking in the street, and also provide meals and snacks for the staff and volunteers during our new schedules which are comprised of 12 hour shifts a few times a week.

All this, so that we can still feel safe and supported as we provide support to the wonderful residents! It was evident my first week in ADI that they go above and beyond for their residents, and now it fills my heart to the brim to see them go above and beyond for us too during these difficult times.

I will be forever grateful for all the things I learned in ADI, all the friendships and connections I made, and for the care and support they gave me while dealing with COVID-19. This is an experience of a lifetime!

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ADI has grown into a global community founded on the principles of sensitivity, inclusion, commitment and kindness. Building a better and more caring world, ADI is making a real difference in the lives of Israeli children with complex intellectual and developmental disabilities.