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Pamela Becker

The Power of Community: Building Resilience in Uncertain Times

Photo credit: Sara Salamon

Since October 7th, Israel’s most challenging time since declaring independence, we have experienced an outpouring of support from the local and international community. This support is not just beneficial; it is essential. 

The Dual Impact of Community-Based Support

Community-based support benefits both the giver and the recipient. By giving what we can—be it providing a meal, offering a ride, giving a hug, having a heartfelt conversation, or distributing protective gear—both parties gain a semblance of control in a situation where control is often elusive. And everyone grows a little more resilient.

Resilience is Contagious

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, a trait that can be nurtured through consistent and positive support. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience in children is greatly influenced by the presence of caring and supportive relationships both within and outside the family. Community-based support systems provide these essential relationships, offering a necessary buffer against the negative impacts of stress and trauma.

Programs that focus on community involvement often include mentorship, peer support groups, and recreational activities. These initiatives are designed to provide a safe space where children and teens can express themselves, learn coping strategies, and build strong social networks. 

Studies show that social support networks significantly improve the psychological well-being of children and adolescents, helping them navigate the complexities of living with a family member’s illness or other crises. These networks offer a sense of normalcy and stability, which are crucial for young people during turbulent times

This has been a guiding principle for Jeremy’s Circle, a nonprofit supporting children and teens coping with cancer or cancer loss in their families since 2008. Now supporting over 1,000 families across Israel, Jeremy’s Circle creates events for this vulnerable population to meet, release stress, and connect with others who understand what they are experiencing even without needing words. As my daughter Zoe commented, about friendships with other girls her age who were also coping with losing a parent to cancer, “Maintaining this friendship happened naturally and simply, alongside the complexity we both experienced at home. We understood the weight of each other’s home lives without having to talk about it a lot.” 

These precious moments and the relationships formed through Jeremy’s Circle build resilience, which is indeed contagious. The boys and girls of Jeremy’s Circle show one another that they can cope with their stress, uncertainty, and fear. They can let loose, have fun, and simply be kids. Oryan, who attended Jeremy’s Circle events during his mother’s illness years ago, wrote “Participating in Jeremy’s Circle events became an integral part of our family’s coping and healing process, and the feeling of warmth and care accompanied us over the years and even today.”

Community-based support organizations are filling the gaps

Community-based support organizations in Israel have grown indispensable as government resources are stretched impossibly thin or unavailable. 

Nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and local volunteer groups have stepped in to fill the gaps, providing essential services that might otherwise be inaccessible. Quickly mobilizing and adapting to the specific needs of the community, these organizations can offer targeted assistance that larger bureaucratic entities may struggle to provide. Many of us see this in action on our phones, via the many community-supporting WhatsApp groups, where a problem and a solution may be posted within seconds of each other.

Moreover, community-based efforts often bring a level of personalization and empathy that government programs cannot match. 

You, the reader, may have experienced community-based support, whether as a giver, recipient, or both. Eight months since October 7th, we have a long road of healing ahead, but together we will get there.

Jeremy’s Circle is now running a crowdfunding campaign to help make sure children and teens coping with cancer and/or loss in their immediate families, have the childhoods they deserve, even in these terrible times. Please read more about how you can help: https://www.jgive.com/new/en/ils/donation-targets/129020/about 

About the Author
Originally from New York, Pamela Becker has enjoyed a long career as a marketing executive for some of Israel's leading technology companies including WhizzCo, ironSource, and SafeCharge (acquired by nuvei). After she was widowed with three small children in 2008, Pamela co-founded and remains the active chairperson of the Israeli charity Jeremy's Circle, which supports children and teens coping with cancer or cancer loss in their young families. She earned a BA in Writing Seminars from The Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Tel Aviv University. Her debut novel Memoirs of a False Messiah was published in 2019. Pamela lives with her husband and their five children in Tel Aviv.
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