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If you've got 200,000 shekels to spare...

by michael March 25 2008
Municipal news may want to keep in mind the volunteer charity organization House of Wheels, which provides a nurturing community for disabled children, and whose new clubhouse in Even Sapir, a moshav on the outskirts of Jerusalem, was heavily damaged by arsonists this week. 

Unidentified individuals yesterday set ablaze a building in Even Sapir, a community on the outskirts of Jerusalem, that was rented out by the volunteer House of Wheels project to serve as a clubhouse for some 100 children and teenagers with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other disabling diseases.

The fire destroyed the newly-installed roof, the electricity system beneath it, and the acoustic ceiling.
Avremi Torem, general director of the Shai Society, which operates the House of Wheels activities, says he does not know how he will raise the money to fix the damage, estimated at NIS 200,000. Renovating the building already cost a million shekels, 80 percent of which came from the National Insurance Institute and donations.

The building is supposed to replace The House of Wheels center in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem, which the society has rented for the past eight years and must vacate by the end of April. Torem could not say whether the landlord will agree to extend the lease.

This was not the first vandalism attack on the building in Even Sapir. A few months ago, when the building was undergoing renovation, vandals broke large flower pots, a gift by the local council.

The plot thickens: another House of Wheels center in Herzliya, a ritzy exurb of Tel Aviv, is the target of organized opposition from residents who worry that all those kids with cerebral palsy will - wait for it - drive down their property values. 

In Herzliya Pituah, plans to build a center on land granted by the municipality five years ago have been disrupted by neighbors, who have submitted various objections to the local planning committee.

The opponents, led by Shmuel Zamir, formerly head of Herzliya's Shinui Party branch, have stated publicly that the presence of disabled people nearby will lower their property values and worsen the parking and traffic congestion. 


Anyway, if you've got some spare shekels and you, unlike Shmuel Zamir, believe that handicapped children deserve a better fate than being shut inside their whole lives so they don't clog the sidewalks with their depressing lack of motor function, consider making a tax-exempt donation to House of Wheels. Information on donating can be found here

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