The 6th Geerz Charity Ride is Around the Corner
On March 27th-29th, Geerz will host our 6th annual Get Into Geerz charity bike ride. Over 100 riders will cycle along six magnificent route options to accommodate every rider level. We have even added a spectacular new gravel route designed for road cyclists who want to experience the unsullied beauty of Israel's Northern trails.
The two-day ride takes place in the biblical landscape of the upper Galilee and is our flagship fundraiser. Each rider commits to raising a minimum of $3600 to fund Geerz programs in Israeli youth villages and development towns throughout the country.
To express our appreciation for their kindness, we work throughout the year to provide our riders with an absolutely unparalleled experience. Thanks to generous sponsors, we offer our riders a two-day celebration of friendship, fun, nature, camaraderie and chesed.
The accommodations are terrific, the food is outstanding, the swag is legendary, the spirits flow freely and there are surprises at every corner. The ride is also a phenomenal networking opportunity as many of our riders make valuable business contacts on the ride. This year, we will be joined by quite a few riders from North America. There are still a few remaining spots available so please join us and share in the magic.
To register for the ride, click here. To learn more or to discuss a possible sponsorship, please contact Chaim Wizman at email@example.com.
Geerz Expands Our Youth Village Programs
Many people are surprised to learn that there are 70 youth villages in Israel. These youth villages effectively function as orphanages. Kids from 1st grade through high school, who cannot live at home due to severe dysfunction, poverty, abuse and neglect are raised in dormitory-like facilities which become their homes. Although the government does an admirable job putting a roof over their heads and food in their mouths, there is little funding for anything else.
Needless to say, these kids are profoundly scarred and without serious intervention, stand little chance of leading normative lives. Last year, Geerz successfully launched its first program in the Neve Landy youth village in Southern Israel. It was an ambitious undertaking as the kids in the village suffer from radically different challenges than the kids we deal with in our community and development town groups. Moreover, we needed to purchase bikes and equipment as these kids literally had nothing of their own.
Nevertheless, a generous donor underwrote the cost to purchase this equipment. We adapted our therapeutic curriculum and specially trained our staff to address their unique needs. The program was and remains a spectacular success. Not only was our program the highlight of these kids' weeks, it was transformative for them. They developed self-confidence, broadened their horizons, learned the value of teamwork and responsibility and developed a skill which incorporates so many of the same valuable skills they encounter in their everyday life.
The program was so successful that the director wrote a glowing testimonial describing the impact on the kids and begged us to expand the program to allow more kids to participate. Despite the huge financial burden, we could not say no and this year we are operating six groups in various youth villages.
As other youth villages learned about the program, we have been bombarded by requests to open our program in these villages as well. We have been so blown away by Geerz' impact in these facilities that we have resolved to do much more. We are committing to opening as many new groups as we can obtain funding for. We hope and believe that our donors will recognize how impactful this project is and respond in kind. Accordingly, we have ramped up our fundraising efforts to cover the increased expenses.
We are sitting on a therapeutic gold mine -- we like to call it therapy in disguise, and it is something far more effective and affordable than conventional therapy. Instead of being stigmatized by sitting in a therapist's chair, kids are thrilled by the adrenaline of the activity and the authenticity of the way that life lessons are being imparted.
The costs of operating a group in a youth village are substantial. The ongoing operating costs of a single youth village group is $12,500. Opening in a new youth village requires an additional start up cost of $5,500 for the purchase of bikes and equipment. The demand and need for these programs is enormous. Our only impediment to opening up additional groups is a lack of funding. Please consider organizing a community or family and friends initiative to sponsor a new youth village group.
We can honestly and confidently assert that if you continue to be our partner in this endeavor, that you will quite literally have transformed the lives of dozens of kids who have known little more than suffering in their young lives.
For more information about youth village sponsorship, please contact Chaim Wizman at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Geerz?
If you think that Geerz is just an after-school program that puts kids on mountain bikes, please read on. Geerz is actually an incredibly effective form of therapy, made all the more effective precisely because it is therapy in disguise. We spare kids the stigma of the therapist's chair and empower them to take control of their lives.
The program is designed for kids struggling with issues such as ADHD, PTSD, autism, anxiety, eating disorders, behavioral and family problems. Our multi-faceted program incorporates therapeutic, physical and educational components to address the most pressing issues encountered by troubled youth. We deal with today’s burning challenges such as addiction to electronics, poor health, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, anger, PTSD and learning challenges.
Mountain biking is widely recognized by mental health and education experts around the world as a powerful, drug-free method to empower and repair the mind and body. It provides a healthy outlet, offers a sense of adventure, builds resilience and encourages kids to adopt positive behaviors and activities as part of their core identity. Geerz has created an revolutionary curriculum which harnesses this magic by imparting critical life and social skills in the context of a fun, supportive and adventurous environment.
The program effectively addresses a wide range of acute social issues. Geerz has been proven especially effective in helping minority and immigrant youth overcome the formidable challenges of integration and shifting social dynamics. The efficacy of Geerz’ programs was demonstrated by a comprehensive clinical study which documented the impact of the Geerz program on its participants across a wide variety of parameters. More than 75% of our participants are referred by mental health, medical and education professionals. So how does it work? Great question.
Each week, throughout the academic year, the kids head for the trails for a thrilling 90-minute session. Each session includes a progressively more challenging trail ride coupled with skills training. The skills training covers three primary areas: Life skills, riding skills, and mechanical skills. Halfway through the session, our riders pause to rest their bodies and activate their minds. On each ride, a different facet of life is presented, explored and debated.
Two to four instructors are dedicated to each group of 8-15 riders for the entire year. The favorable instructor-to-rider ratio allows our staff to give significant personal attention to every rider and enables the kids to build meaningful relationships with highly positive role models. By design, our five-year curriculum is structured to progressively build various strengths, constantly spurring youth to interact and discover their own skills and strengths. Indeed, the vast majority of our participants join the program year after year and this allows us to achieve extraordinary results.
So how effective is Geerz? In a word....VERY. In our most recent end-of-year survey, over 86% of parents indicated that their child’s self-esteem improved significantly due to involvement with Geerz. 85% of parents reported major improvement in their child’s sense of responsibility, and over 90% noted significant improvement in physical fitness.
Parents also reported substantial improvements in their children’s social interactions, academic success and positive attitude. One of the proudest measures of our success is the fact that more than half of our assistant instructors are former Geerz riders themselves who have committed to give back to the community while earning income for the first time in their lives.
For the hundreds of kids that we serve each year, Geerz is not merely a great activity, it is life transforming. Get involved and see the magic first-hand.
A Parent's Testimonial
Dear Rabbi Wasosky,
Often in life, things are not quite what they seem.
When one sees children with disabilities, there is an immediate, visceral, gut reaction of "how can I help."
But then there are so many children with behavioral and emotional disabilities, difficulties and delays that are not easily discerned by the casual observer. Their behavior is deemed a nuisance for the parents to deal with alone. But it is precisely these children who often need more than their parents are equipped to give.
Another issue is that people often assume that others have a certain level of financial stability when that is not always the case.
Personally, I struggle to give 4 out of our 6 children one weekly chug (after-school activity) per year starting from the 1st grade. My 2nd son only started his chug in 3rd grade because he could not be "trusted" to behave in a group setting before then. I had dreamed of him joining Geerz since I first saw the riding groups around town proudly wearing their bright orange shirts. After visiting the Geerz website, I knew this would be perfect for him. When I discovered that this activity was almost double the cost of the standard after-school activities, in addition to the cost of buying a bike and other gear, I was crushed. I never imagined that there were scholarship opportunities for people like us. We live comfortably on a tight budget from paycheck to paycheck. It's the "extras" we struggle with. The after school activities, the unexpected notes that come home from school asking for 100 NIS here or 20 NIS there. When my girls need new clothing I open my closet and give them my clothing so they feel they have "new" things. So a chug that was so much more expensive, such as Geerz, was simply not in our budget.
But I still so wished for this chug for my son. I read so much about the confidence this gives boys with ADHD who are often branded as "bad" and troublemakers in school. The life skills, the social skills, the physical outlet and sense of happiness, freedom and accomplishment the boys gain were exactly what my son needed. When I privately expressed to a children's behavioral specialist who recommended Geerz for our son, that it was not an option due to financial considerations, she told me about the scholarship opportunities available, according to need.
Thank you for allowing me to request a scholarship with dignity and not feel shamed for not being able to pay in full. As a parent, you want to do everything for your children and it's a bitter pill to swallow when you can't give them everything they need. For my son, Geerz was a "need" (not a "want" but a "need') truly therapeuitic and unlike any other chug out there. My father generously bought us a bike and you allowed us to pay the amount that we could afford.
Geerz has been a real game changer for our son. It has been so physically and emotionally therapeutic for him and the school has told me that my son is a different kid this year. The fact that he has a bike and has developed the confidence to ride throughout the week, is tremendous and will serve him well throughout his life IYH. He is happier, we are happier, our house is happier.
Thank you Rabbi Wasosky.