Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday granted certificates of appreciation to Knesset Guard members Ran Shalom, commander of Unit D, and Alon Ben-David, a former unit commander, for their participation in the unique ”Line 28” project, which assists senior citizens.
The project was launched some eight years ago when then-Unit D commander Ben-David turned to the Jerusalem municipality and asked to help senior citizens in the capital as a volunteer. Ben-David was referred to a social worker in Neve Ya`akov, and the two created a plan to assist elderly people in the neighborhood.
”Elderly people who wanted to cash their monthly old-age pension checks were forced to go to the nearby Pisgat Ze`ev neighborhood. At that time, robberies of senior citizens were widespread throughout the country, and some elderly people in Neve Ya`akov were afraid to make the trip from the bank back to their homes alone while carrying their checks,” Ben-David related. He turned to Egged, which allotted a bus to take the neighborhood`s elderly residents to a bank in Pisgat Ze`ev on the 28th of each month, the day they are able to cash their monthly checks. The senior citizens who take bus no. 28 to Pisgat Ze`ev and back are accompanied by members of the Knesset Guard.
The project continued after Shalom replaced Ben-David as unit commander. ”For five and a half years now, members of the unit under my command have been accompanying elderly people on the 28th of each month. Some of them ask that we accompany them to their homes, and we of course oblige with pleasure,” Shalom said, adding ”I hope the person who eventually replaces me will continue the project as well.”
Shalom said the connection between the Knesset Guard members and the elderly residents of Neve Ya`akov was very strong, and the residents were even invited to the Knesset for a tour and a meeting, ”which was very moving.”
The Egged bus company and Hapoalim Bank will also receive certificates of appreciation for their participation in the project.
The ceremony in which the Knesset Guard members were honored for their volunteer work took place as part of a conference titled ”Preventing the Financial Exploitation of the Elderly,” held in the framework of the International Month of the Elderly. The conference is an initiative of the Jerusalem municipality`s Welfare Department and Community Service Administration – Services for the Elderly. It is taking place at the Bible Lands Museum in the presence of Mayor Barkat.