Archive for : Homelessness

Repair Inspiration: Masbia Soup Kitchen

Since 2005, Masbia – a soup kitchen in Brooklyn – has been providing hot, nutritious, kosher meals for Jewish families in need and the broader community. In the last year alone, they provided more than 800,000 meals, engaging hundreds of regular and one-time volunteers along the way.

Recently, Masbia got some much deserved love from NationSwell. They write: “Dignified surroundings, and healthy, comforting meals, raise Masbia above the standard, a welcome reminder that seeking help with food doesn’t have to be a gloomy affair.”

Check out their video, and meet their awesome chef, below, then read the whole article over at Nation Swell.

Want to help? Sign up for a volunteer shift or make a donation to support Masbia’s work.

5 Ways to Give Purim Food Gifts (Mishloach Manot) To Those in Need

March is Get To Know Your Neighbors month at Repair the World. Check back all month long for inspiring posts.

Giving mishloach manot, the gifts of food people share on Purim, is one of the most delicious Jewish traditions. Derived from the Book of Esther and literally translated as “sending of portions,” people bundle up hamantaschen and other edible goodies (brownies, granola bars, raisins, juice boxes) and deliver them to friends and family.

But get this: giving mishloach manot have an underlying message of social change. Each person is required to deliver at least one Purim basket to someone else. The reason? To ensure that everybody, wealthy or not, has enough food to enjoy their Purim celebration. In other words, it’s a bit of food justice built right into the holiday!
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Season of Giving: Five Ways to “Give Differently” This Year

Each winter, everyone seems to get into the giving spirit – which is great! There are a ton of ways to make the world a better place – like making an end-of-year donation to an organization you care about, volunteering at a soup kitchen.

But maybe you’re in the mood to change things up and do something different? If so, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 unconventional ways to give in this season of giving.

 Donate Your Old Phone. MTV Act and DoSomething.org are running an awesome campaign to let you donate your own cell phone and help survivors of domestic abuse.

Get Swabbed. Help save a life – all by getting your cheek swabbed and getting signed up for a bone marrow donation registry. Find out how at Gift of Life or Swab a Cheek.

Donate Your Hair. Got lovely long tresses? There are lots of organizations that let you donate your locks to make wigs for cancer patients, and other people experiencing medical hair loss. Check out these organizations to get started.

Write Someone’s BubbeCheck out Reach Out America’s pen pal program to connect with an elderly person as a pen pal. Make a new friend and make their day – and yours!

Donate Your Artistic (or Volunteering) Talent. Life Beat’s Hearts & Voices program organizes artists to perform for people living with AIDS in healthcare facilities throughout New York City. Got talent to share? Volunteer to play, sing, dance, or perform. Or, volunteer to help set up and run the events – no musical skills required.

Got another untraditional way to give? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld!

Season of Giving: Donate Gently Used Coats To Keep Others Warm

It’s that time again: coat drive time! According to New York Cares, 90% of homeless adults need a new, warm coat each winter because they have no place to keep one over the summer months. That means, coat drives play an important role every year in making sure everyone has equal access to warm clothing during the colder months.

So dig into your closet and find any and all gently used, unwanted coats and donate! Here are a few coat drive opportunities across the country:

New York Cares’ Coat Drive: Help this New York City-based organization collect 200,000 winter coats through February 7 to help New York City families who are living in poverty keep warm.
One Warm Coat: This national organization helps individuals and local charities organize coat drives for men, women and children in need. They’ve helped distribute close to 3 million coats since 1992. Help them do even more!
Clothes4Souls: This national clothing donation organization teamed up with outdoor retailer, The North Face, this holiday season. Through December 24, bring your gently used clothing and coats to participating North Face retail locations and help give the gift of warmth.

Do you know about a local coat drive in your neighborhood or city? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Destination Detroit

by Devon Rubenstein and Emily Phillips

If you told us when we were still students at the University of Michigan that we would graduate to organizing monthly service days for Michigan State, we would have said, “Thanks but no thanks, AmeriCorps!” Of course, we are only kidding, but the rivalry did have a funny way of initially affecting our enthusiasm for the partnership. And yet the true colors of volunteering have overcome school colors to create Destination Detroit. 
Destination Detroit is a partnership of Repair the World and MSU Hillel, which brings diverse student groups together through service and shared experiences in Detroit. On monthly Fridays throughout the year, groups of about 40 students come from East Lansing to Detroit for a fun-filled day of volunteering, sightseeing and, of course, food. The participating groups include:
  • Arab Cultural Society
  • Asian Pacific American Student Organization
  • Black Student Alliance
  • Camp Kesem
  • Culturas de las Razas Unidas
  • The Greek Community
  • Jewish Student Union
  • Student Housing Cooperative (Co-Op)

For our most recent Destination Detroit, we partnered with Davison, a Detroit elementary and middle school known for its dedicated teachers and creative curriculum. For a testament to Davison’s commitment to education, look no further than Judy Robinson, who recently retired after teaching kindergarten at Davison for 39 years, still volunteers there, and was integral to bringing Destination Detroit to her school.

Davison has attracted a large population of Detroit and Hamtramck’s recent immigrants from Bangladesh. (More on Hamtramck below.) and attracts a large population of Bengali students. The diversity of both the Davison and MSU students enriched everyone’s experience, but the day’s theme — Science Rules! — showed us we had more in common than we thought.

Room One: Ecosystem Art!
How could college volunteers and elementary school students who’d never met before create individual works of science-themed art that would then be combined to beautify the school? Enthusiastically, it turns out. Each grade tackled an ecosystem — ocean, desert, and forest — with students and volunteers decorating their own sheets using found objects like pine needles, cotton balls, paper bags, and shiny fragments from old CDs (ones we feverishly broke prior with gloves and bolt cutters). While each kid’s picture was great on its own, the truly spectacular part of the project was seeing hundreds of these pictures collaged together and mounted in the hallway.

Room Two: Science Experiments!
Pennies don’t command much respect as currency these days, but they are are great for experiments. 1. Inertia: resting pennies on an index card on a cup and trying to get pennies to drop directly into a cup while only moving the index card. (It’s harder than it sounds.) 2. Chemical Reactions: testing to see whether dish soap or hot sauce (Sriracha, in case you’re curious) would clean the tarnish off pennies. If you’re anything like our friends a Davison, you’ll be amazed by which worked.

Room Three: Food Chain!
Classes created their own ecological rock-paper-scissors with predator, prey and producer — replete with pantomime. For example, lion eats antelope, which eats grass, which survives lion. Elementary and college students faced off repeatedly, transitioning accordingly (i.e. in Lion vs. Antelope, Lion stayed Lion and Antelope became Lion) and learning about ecological balance and interdependence in the most chaotic way imaginable.

Destination Detroit blends service and Detroit experiences in a way that always manages to excite, engage and exhaust everyone. After many hugs and high fives at Davison, the MSU students ventured into the cold for a tour of the amazing work by Powerhouse Productions, including the Ride It Sculpture Park, Sound House and Power House. Then, out of the cold — and, for that matter, out of Detroit — to Hamtramck, a city surrounded by the City. At the Polish Art Center, we learned from residents (experts and authors) about the rich immigrant history that preceded the current wave of Bengalis and Yemenis who now fill many of Hamtramck’s homes and storefronts. And the trip would not have been complete without pierogi, stuffed cabbage and more from Polonia.

It’s Coat Drive Time! Help Keep Others Warm This Winter

Unless you are lucky enough to live in California or another warm and sunny locale, winter can get pretty chilly! And for too many Americans across the country, winter also brings the painful choice between paying rent and putting food on the table, or buying adequate winter coats for themselves and their families.

This year, with the recession continuing to put an extra strain on families, and many families on the East Coast still suffering from losses after Hurricane Sandy, we think there’s a need for a little extra warm stuff. Fortunately, there’s something you can do. Got a new or gently used extra coat in your closet? Instead of letting it hang around collecting moth balls, put it to good use in a local coat drive that redistributes gently used gear to those in need.

According to New York Cares, “90% of homeless adults need a new, warm coat each winter because they have no place to keep one over the summer months.” That means, coat drives play an important role every year in making sure everyone has equal access to warm clothing during the colder months. Here are a few coat drive opportunities across the country:

  • New York Cares’ Coat Drive: Help this New York City-based organization collect 200,000 winter coats through December 31 to help New York City families who are living in poverty keep warm.
  • One Warm Coat: This national organization helps individuals and local charities organize coat drives for men, women and children in need. They’ve helped distribute close to 3 million coats since 1992. Help them do even more!
  • Clothes4Souls: This national clothing donation organization teamed up with outdoor retailer, The North Face, this holiday season. Through December 24, bring your gently used clothing and coats to participating North Face retail locations and help give the gift of warmth.

There are too many local coat drives across the country to list them all – so we’re counting on YOU! Do you know about a local coat drive in your neighborhood or city? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.