The Randolph A. Hearst Sheltered Workshop was established in the City of Ariel in 1993. Designed to service Ariel’s disabled and elderly populations, the Hearst Workshop continues to function as a critical community resource.
The City of Ariel, Capital of Samaria, is home to roughly 2,500 senior residents. More than 80% of Ariel’s elderly population are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, now dedicated citizens of Israel who wish to give back to the city that warmly welcomed and absorbed them.
Similarly, dozens of Ariel’s residents are challenged by emotional, physical or mental disabilities. Whereas their personal disabilities may prevent them from holding a standard full time job, they too require an environment where they can contribute as productive members of society while restoring their sense of self-respect and dignity.
Fortunately, the Hearst Workshop provides Ariel’s elderly and disabled with the opportunities they seek. As with many Ariel initiatives, the Hearst Workshop was established and is maintained thanks to Ariel’s Social Services Department, a small but highly motivated staff and generous contributions from the city’s dedicated friend, Victoria Hearst.
Participants consider the Workshop a home away from home. Beyond its pivotal role in their daily routine, it’s also the heart of their social life. They celebrate holidays and birthdays at the Workshop, and when one of their peers is ill they visit on a rotational basis.
The Workshop functions five days a week in two daily shifts (8:00 am – 2:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm), with a nominal staff comprised of the Workshop’s manager and the vocational trainer.
As recipients of a monthly stipend for their daily activities at the Hearst Workshop, participants are not considered “employees.” Yet as dedicated and diligent workers, they take great pride in the fruits of their labor.
Unlike workshops elsewhere in Israel which cater to similar demographic groups by creating arts and crafts projects, the Workshop engages participants with the task of manufacturing quality factory-grade products.
Projects such as wiring for complex electronic products, ranging from retina scanning technology to satellites, and standardized packaging for first aid kits and vaccines are some examples of what the Workshop’s participants tackle on a day-to-day basis. The participants are well aware of the skilled value that they offer the greater community, and the sense of personal satisfaction that they themselves receive in return.
The current primary structure of the Workshop is built on 240 square meters (2583 square feet), which includes two production areas and a warehouse.
It’s been over a decade since the Workshop’s most recent major expansion. At that time, a long overdue warehouse was then added, allowing the Workshop to work with advanced projects that require numerous raw materials and frequent shipping and storage arrangements.
Now, as the Workshop continues to function at full capacity, the building is bursting at the seams.
A new facility is required to meet the following objectives:
Similarly, projects such as a hot lunch plan, day trips, and other programming require additional funding.