Some of my earliest memories are from the House of Grace. I was born and raised there. I played and grew up alongside many individuals who passed through the house. All who participated in our organization became more than just acquaintances; they became family. It never struck me as odd to live here until I was 12 years old. When I was 12, I played with schoolmates. I invited them to hang out at my place after school. Their reactions were peculiar, and they dodged the invitation. The following day, a friend revealed that his parents forbade him from coming to my house because I lived with former prisoners. I was taken aback; I hadn’t realized people were fearful of those I considered family. My classmate’s parents held misconceptions based on stereotypes, thinking I lived with murderers and thieves.
However, I knew the truth. Over time, as I explained our mission and how we aided individuals facing tough times, and shared stories of my friends from the house, my schoolmates began to understand too. They relayed these stories to their parents, explaining the real purpose of the House of Grace. They informed them that we were the first halfway house in Israel and that we assisted newly released prisoners to reintegrate into an ever-evolving society. Gradually, their parents warmed up to the idea and decided to see for themselves. One afternoon, I planned to meet my friends at the house and then go cycling. When I got home, I found their bikes leaning against our front gate. I then discovered them in the kitchen, laughing and cooking with some of the residents who were former prisoners. At that moment, I witnessed their prior misconceptions melting away as they shared joyous moments cooking with the residents.
They started to feel a sense of belonging, and it was then I grasped the significance of the House of Grace. As I matured, this memory remained dear to me, and I realized this wasn’t just a job but a mission. I understand that many come here because of the familial atmosphere. It’s what sets our organization apart, drawing not just ex-prisoners and families in need, but the broader community too. I now strive to maintain this environment and welcome everyone who visits.