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$7 Million Gift From MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett to Repair the World

June 15, 2021 — As a majority of American Jews say that working for justice and equality is essential to being Jewish, a $7 million gift from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett to Repair the World will help it expand efforts to mobilize Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world. Scott and Jewett’s unrestricted gift comes as an increasing number of Jews, particularly young adults, engage in Jewish life through service and believe that leading a moral and ethical life is essential to their Jewish identity. Repair the World’s volunteer opportunities, national campaigns, partnerships, and local offerings help young adults act on their values, address urgent needs in their communities, and build bridges across lines of differences. Now Repair the World plans to leverage this generous support to attract additional investments and grow its work to an unprecedented scale.

“We express overwhelming gratitude to MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett for their investment in Repair’s mission and her confidence in Repair’s strong track record of mobilizing tens of thousands of individuals in service,” says Cindy Greenberg, President and CEO of Repair the World. “We are also incredibly thankful to our participants who have engaged in service over our 12 years, our hundreds of local nonprofit partners that meet pressing needs and impact and impact in their communities, and all who have helped lead and contribute to Repair. MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett’s generosity and vision validates the investments of Repair’s generous funders, and their gift is a clear challenge and invitation to do even more: more service, more partnerships, and more investments to elevate and expand service in American Jewish life.”

Repair the World’s adaptive strategy enables it to activate the Jewish service field to create volunteer opportunities, plan major national campaigns, and respond immediately to meet the needs of young adults and local communities. Last year, for example, amid the pandemic and the movement for racial justice, Repair rapidly created the Serve the Moment Initiative with 44 coalition partners to mobilize tens of thousands of young Jews and their communities to serve to meet urgent needs exacerbated by the pandemic. With Scott and Jewett’s gift and others, Repair will dramatically increase its national and local partnerships, accelerating and growing meaningful service and learning opportunities for young adults to address societal challenges. 

  • Repair’s direct programming includes a local presence in the 13 cities with the largest population of Jewish young adults, which in the coming years will expand to 20 cities. Repair’s different program options include episodic (one-time) service opportunities, along with more immersive and full-time fellowship options.
  • Repair has customized partnerships with the largest national Jewish engagement organizations across the country to involve their participants in service. 
  • Repair’s national service campaigns focus on issues such as food insecurity, mental health, voter access, and racial equity, and are grounded in Jewish wisdom and learning. These campaigns activate the entire field and include digital engagement that lead to acts of service and learning. 

“During the pandemic we learned how to both adapt and grow,” adds Greenberg. “As service takes on more prominence in Jewish life, we need others to join in these efforts, from new organizational partners to increased support from more funders. It’s an honor to receive this gift from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, together with some of the greatest social change and bridge-building organizations in the country. With their past grantees, we’ve seen it’s not just an influx of resources, but something that catalyzes additional growth and investment. We acknowledge the additional responsibility this opportunity places on us to achieve maximum impact. Moreover, Repair and HIAS are the first explicitly Jewish organizations to be their grantees as part of their ‘Giving Pledge.’ Scott and Jewett’s approach to philanthropy, which places complete trust in the non-profit leadership to know how best to make impact, inspires us and it reflects Maimonides’ teachings on the  highest forms of charity.”

Repair has long recognized the impact of service on building bridges between and within communities.  Service grounded in Jewish values and learning has the power to both connect the Jewish community with non-Jewish neighbors around shared values, and be a powerful force for building Jewish unity. This approach resonates with many Jewish young adults who have deep interests in social change. Generation Z is the most civically engaged generation alive today. Along with Millennials, the majority of GenZ say that being Jewish is important to them, but they don’t necessarily connect their Jewish identities with their civic lives and social values. 

“We know that Judaism comes alive for young adults at the intersection of social issues and Jewish tradition,” shared Repair the World Board Chair Robb Lippitt. “Repair the World provides multiple entry points to engage in service as an expression of Jewish values and identity. This is an exciting moment for the Jewish service movement as we can thicken the connection between Judaism and other priorities of Jewish young adults, cultivate leadership, and deepen relationships between Jews and their communities, all while meaningfully serving with our many amazing organizational partners.

Community Liberation through Farming

Last summer, Zohar, a Repair the World fellow, began working with the Cherry Hill Urban Community Garden, a local farm and service partner in Baltimore, Maryland. Working at a community garden was a new experience for Zohar. “Through the fellowship, we jumped right into the work of organized gardening and cleaning the surrounding areas,” said Zohar. They recalled the moment they met the farm steward at the garden for the first time. The farm steward asked, “Are you willing to dedicate your time towards fighting for the protection of Black land and food sovereignty?” As Zohar reflected on what calls them to serve, they said, “Yes. I really don’t see any other way.” 

It was at this moment that Zohar knew their next year as a Repair the World fellow would be like none other. Zohar has dedicated their service to food access equity ever since the start of the fellowship. “If we want to move forward with liberation for everyone through food equity and taking care of the earth, Black farming and food sovereignty need to be protected.” For Zohar the moment they met the farm steward is one they also think about often when reflecting on why they truly serve. “The work I do in my community is about solidarity, organizing with my neighbors to better protect one another, and building healthy communities.” 

This past year Zohar has committed their time to strengthening the work of farmers in the Baltimore area by showing up for Black farmers who are meaningfully transforming the food system by serving alongside them. “What motivates me is believing that tomorrow, we will be a step closer to liberation for all people. I wake up every morning thinking about what I can do today to make that happen.”  Zohar’s Judaism plays a significant role in their passion for uplifting community members, as someone who grew up witnessing Jewish organizers serving their communities everyday. “I look to my ancestors and those who came before me to guide me in my pursuit for a more just world.”

Zohar who spends most of their time at the garden and with other community food access organizations truly feels their values in action on Farm Crew Work Day when working with a farm crew, a cohort of volunteers who regularly serve at local farms and community gardens. A new initiative for Repair the World Baltimore, on Farm Crew Work Day, Zohar and other volunteers prepare seedling beds for growing during the year. Community members pay little to nothing to grow their own food. “This project directly aligns with my values. I believe that we should give financially when we’re able to and dedicate our time and labor when we are physically capable of doing so.”

Food access equity and combating lack of food resources can be an uphill battle that Zohar witnesses their community facing. “My experiences serving pushes me to reach into my Jewishness when progress feels far off and suffering is ongoing. Whatever community role I take on will be one where I am serving others.”

Zohar is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where they were a Middle Eastern Studies and Politics double major. They are a social justice educator, a Yiddishist, and a Jewish community leader. They have a passion for creating a collective imagining of eventual liberation and implementing practices of indisposability in everyday life. Zohar loves historical dramas, making bubble tea, and collecting patches and pins for their denim jacket.

Opening Up About Mental Health is a Jewish Value

This article originally appeared on Alma on May 25th 2021. 

Organizations like Repair the World are working to combat some of these factors by creating new opportunities for digital volunteering and socially distant service programs. Volunteering is known to support mental health: According to Ricky Lawton, associate director at Simetrica Research Consultancy, volunteering “boosts our sense of social connection,” but can also be intrinsically rewarding — that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve done something to help something else is a protective factor for your mental health, in addition to making a positive impact.

 

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Service Beyond a Singular Moment

In high school, Harry was an avid volunteer at a local therapeutic riding center. “I started volunteering at the riding center because I loved horses,” said Harry as he reflected on his earlier years of serving in his community. “I didn’t realize it then, but that time in my life would shift how I viewed service forever.” Now a Repair the World fellow in Baltimore, Harry reflects on that time as a pivotal moment in his life. “Working with children with disabilities in that capacity changed everything for me. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself.”

Moving to and working in the city of Baltimore during the pandemic has been a huge shift for Harry. He joined the Repair the World Fellowship with a deep drive to strengthen his Jewish values of service and to pursue justice through a Jewish lens. Harry has an immense passion for education and began volunteering virtually with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center in August 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. “It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to build curriculums to be used for the tutoring program beyond my time serving with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. The work we’ve done over the last year ensures that the tutoring program is set up for success in the coming year.”

This past year, through his service as a fellow, Harry has further strengthened his connections with Judaism and his values. “Over the last year, I’ve been able to truly identify parts of who I am and make meaningful connections between my values. I’m seeing more and more how service plays an impactful role in how I engage with Judaism.” Harry reflected on how the MLK weekend of service presented his values through volunteering. “Engaging in the weekend of service highlighted one of my values, justice, as part of Judaism and how fighting for equity within the community is ongoing work that I want to continue to do.”   

Harry, alongside two other Baltimore fellows, has also been working on Stories From the People, a storytelling event highlighting LGBTQIA Jewish history. First hand account stories will be performed by people across generations and will identify particular decades and center on the understanding of a collective history in order to make sense of the present and future. “I’m really excited about this project and we’ve been working on it over the last year. This is an idea that came from one community member who attended a program we hosted during Pride last year and it’s amazing to see it grow and shape into a vehicle where marginalized communities can share their stories in the most authentic way.”

Harry plans to step back into the classroom as a paraeducator after completing the fellowship. “It’s important to me that service be something beyond a singular moment. During my fellowship, I’ve learned more about the failures of our education system, including lack of classroom resources and support for students’ mental health and it’s becoming clearer what my life’s path will be as I continue working towards education equity in this country. I’m eager to continue serving my community and pursuing justice, particularly in education.” 

Harry (he/him) is a Repair the World fellow serving in Baltimore, Maryland. As an undergrad, he spent a significant amount of time at Hillel and serving his community. Following both of these passions, he is excited to continue serving in the Jewish space while fighting for education equity in his community. 

Vaccine Volunteer Network Launched in Northeast Ohio

This article originally appeared in The Cleveland Jewish News on May 27th 2021. 

Repair the World Cleveland, a collaborative of local organizations and community members, launched a vaccine network April 3 to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Northeast Ohio.

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Thousands of Jewish College Students Engaged in Pilot Project through Serve the Moment Volunteer Service Initiative

For Immediate Release
May 26, 2021

Contact: Jason Edelstein, 510-239-1102

Thousands of Jewish College Students Engaged in Pilot Project through Serve the Moment Volunteer Service Initiative
Repair the World and Hillel International Now Look to Engage More College Students in Service Infused with Jewish Learning

New York, NY — Repair the World and Hillel International’s efforts to mobilize thousands of college students in meaningful volunteer service and learning through the national Serve the Moment initiative resulted in successful mobilization and activation on almost 100 campuses worldwide. Both organizations are exploring expansion of the project following its initial pilot year.

“The success and overwhelming response to this program is proof positive that Jewish college students are eager to create change by living out their Jewish values,” says Cindy Greenberg, President and CEO of Repair the World. “We are excited to engage even more students to serve their communities and address urgent local needs and inequity.”

Specifically:

  • 78 Hillels participated across 95 different campuses.
  • 101 students were Serve the Moment Interns. Each intern completed ten acts of service and engaged 25 unique students, resulting in nearly 5,000 students engaged in more than 26,000 total hours of service.
  • Eight international Hillels participated in the program: Queen’s Hillel in Ontario, Hillel Kyiv, Ben Gurion U Hillel, Hillel Campus France, Hillel at Tel Aviv U, Hillel Warsaw, Hillel Rio, and Hillel Russia. 
  • The top three issue area focuses of the campuses were Food Justice/Insecurity (34 campuses), Racial Justice/Diversity (23 campuses), and Environmental Justice/Sustainability (23 campuses). 

“This program has provided countless examples of our students meeting the moment of an extremely challenging period with hope, service and support for their local and global communities,” said Adam Lehman, President and CEO of Hillel International. “Through our partnership with Repair the World, Hillel is actively and proudly empowering students to have a real and sustaining impact.”

Launched in June 2020, the Jewish Service Alliance (JSA) is a coalition of organizations powered by Repair the World and including Hillel International, which is mobilizing tens of thousands of young people to do 100,000 acts of needed and meaningful service for COVID-19 relief, grounded in Jewish wisdom.  As part of JSA’s Serve the Moment initiative, Hillel Campus Corps Members led service efforts addressing four key areas—hunger, education, employment, and mental health—and the program offered training, resources, and best practices so that they carry out this work in the most effective ways. The service work combined in-person and virtual volunteering, some episodic and some a part of time-bound national Serve the Moment campaigns. This is just the latest partnership between Repair and Hillel to strengthen and maximize service opportunities for young people. 

Applications are being accepted for the June 21-July 30 cohort of Serve the Moment Service Corps.

Below are specifics on how some of the programs engaged in this effort:  

Hillel Milwaukee

This semester, Hillel Milwaukee’s Serve the Moment intern chose to focus on partnering with local non-profit organizations doing important work on immigration justice, racial justice, food justice, and civic engagement. Some of the initiatives included a mishloach manot communal giving opportunity, making baked goods for unhoused community members, running a period product drive, and text banking for a statewide election.

Hillel at University of Virginia 

This semester, Hillel at University of Virginia focused on adding elements of service and advocacy into the programs and events already happening in their community. Their hope was that this would show students how values of tikkun olam are linked to so much of what we do as a community. Serve the Moment Fellows Jackie and Rose established a 15-person Jewish Service Corps group to help with events and initiatives. Members were responsible for completing acts of service throughout the semester and had the opportunity to learn and connect with one another. 

Hillel at The George Washington University 

This semester, Hillel at The George Washington University created an initiative to explore ideological nuances of race in DC, and do service with antiracist practice in mind. By highlighting local organizations, activists, educators, and organizers as learning partners on the subjects of white saviorism, medical racism, education systems, prison & police, and housing justice/gentrification, and using those lessons to inform service practices rooted in an antiracist framework, students at GW Hillel showed up and committed to antiracism through action and learning. 

Hillel JUC (Pittsburgh)

This semester, the University of Pittsburgh Hillel was excited to offer a wide range of service learning opportunities for their students. In March they focused on environmental justice and equity, hosting a Conscious Clothing Workshop in addition to the month-long drive they held to provide supplies for marginalized LGBTQIA folks in need. In April, their primary focus was mental health and racial justice, where they worked with local organizations on social media campaigns and a tour of the Black and Jewish history of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. They were also excited for their Annual Hillel Makes a Difference Day, which offered eight virtual, hybrid and in-person service opportunities for students ranging from food justice to support for senior adults in the Jewish community. 

University of Michigan Hillel

This semester, University of Michigan Hillel’s Serve the Moment fellow planned wonderful programming to engage the Michigan community in important social justice work.  Their areas of focus were on Racial justice and Food justice, and they split their efforts between educational programming and service work. They had a very successful MLK Shabbat where over 30 students hosted Shabbat dinner for their roommates with take out from local Black owned restaurants. Many others also utilized Turn the Tables discussion guides from their partners at Repair the World at their Shabbat dinners. They also hosted a fundraiser on Purim for the Maize and Blue Cupboard, the University of Michigan’s food pantry raising over $250 dollars to help fight food insecurity on campus. They look forward to future events including a speaker series and a Passover food drive. 

Brandeis University Hillel

This semester, Brandeis Hillel worked on ten acts of service centered around immigration justice. They also partnered with Ascentria Care Alliance to implement a tutoring program between migrants in foster care and current Brandeis students. 

Stanford University Hillel

The Serve the Moment fellow at Hillel at Stanford worked on myriad projects this quarter, with a specific focus on environment and wellness. She helped connect many Stanford students with various service projects, put out an educational social media series about sustainable farming, coordinated volunteers for Kids With Dreams, and hosted a racial justice film with her pod-mates, followed by group discussion and a call to action.  She also planned a group beach cleanup with her pod of Stanford students in San Diego, and continued to coordinate other volunteer opportunities for students.  She is also planning to donate her leftover funding to Syrian Youth Empowerment, an organization that helps Syrian students apply to college.  

University of Delaware Hillel

This semester, Hillel at the University of Delaware focused on sustainability through their Serve the Moment programming. Within their first month of the semester, their intern ran multiple successful programs engaging over 30 students. During Purim, they planted parsley that would grow in time to use for Passover and discussed methods of reducing waste in regards to grocery shopping. They helped students make their own cleaning spray during Shabbat to exhibit environmentally friendly alternatives to popular single-use cleaning products. In the future, they plan to host more engaging sustainability-focused events including constructing beeswax wraps, making paper, and highlighting sustainable study habits and tips. Students were excited to participate in these events and leave with tangible products to use in their daily lives.

Hillel at Brooklyn College 

This semester, Brooklyn College planned on continuing their afterschool programs for homeless children by transitioning onto an online platform. Volunteers worked one-on-one with kids who needed tutoring assistance as well as a friend to connect with as these children continued to tackle their reality of a Covid-world. The intern was also devoted to wellness and checked in weekly with student volunteers to see how they were doing, to offer assistance, and to be a listening ear. Every three weeks the volunteers also met as a cohort to do some group wellness activities and learn together. 

Kingsborough Community College 

This semester, Kingsborough Community College gave back to the community through volunteering at their local Masbia soup kitchen. The intern learned that the local Masbia is open 24 hours serving 500 families daily. They partnered with them to provide weekly ongoing volunteer opportunities for students to assist with distributing packages as well as aiding them with organizing and managing food shipments. Volunteers also set aside time each shift to learn together about social justice through a Jewish lens.

 

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Mental health during Covid: Be of service and get a ‘helper’s high’

This article originally appeared in The Jewish News of Northern California on May 21st 2021. 

It was for this reason that I felt lucky to be given an opportunity to give back to my community during this tough time. Through the Serve the Moment fellowship — a program of Repair the World, in partnership with the Jewish Service Alliance  — I was prescreened and able to partner with Hamilton Families, a nonprofit that for decades has provided resources to families in the Bay Area experiencing homelessness.

 

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Seizing the Moment to Serve

Image shows a white woman with brown hair taking a selfie in front of wild bushes.In early 2020, Jasmin had just begun her service with the Peace Corps in Ecuador. Everything changed in March when the pandemic hit and she and her group were evacuated from the region. “It was disappointing and a bit shocking, I didn’t get a chance to serve abroad because we were evacuated at the end of our training,” recalls Jasmin. News of the pandemic was still surfacing and nobody could really know what the future would hold. Jasmin had initially joined the Peace Corps because of her belief in the power of service. She was hoping to build relationships as part of her service abroad and make a real difference in the region. 

It was a surprise to come home to Boston, after saying goodbye to friends and family, and after expecting to be away from home for two years. But when Jasmin got home, she knew she had to find ways to continue her commitment to service and begin to volunteer in her local community. 

In the summer of 2020, after being home and witnessing the ravaging effects the pandemic had across the country and particularly in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Jasmin felt a deep calling to support her neighbors. “I was shocked by how negatively Chelsea was affected by the pandemic,” said Jasmin. “Knowing that there was something I could do to support the community meant a lot to me. The community was already facing great challenges before the pandemic, and the inequities were just exacerbated by COVID-19. I began questioning why it took a global pandemic to see the issues that already existed.” That is when Jasmin signed up to be a part of the Service Corps with Repair the World Boston.

For Jasmin, growing up, she saw her Jewishness and service as two separate aspects of her life. “As I started serving when I became older and especially through the Service Corps, it became clear to me that tikkun olam, repairing the world, was a vital part of being Jewish. Serving is now part of both my personal and Jewish values. Caring for others is why service is so important to me now,” said Jasmin.  

Jasmin spends most of her time serving with the Food Pantry at St. Lukes in Chelsea, Massachusetts. She has been inspired by the meaningful collaborations created during her meetings with local food pantries, food banks, schools, and other organizations like Healthy Chelsea and The Greater Boston Food Bank who are fighting for food access equity in the greater Boston area. “It’s amazing to see a group of non-profits from all over Boston come together and share resources that will not only uplift the organizations but allow for greater access to food for the members of the Boston community,” said Jasmin.

Jasmin spends her Fridays stocking the shelves of the food pantry and is in constant awe of how quickly food and supplies leave the pantry, highlighting the immense needs of the families for whom the pantry is so valuable. 

“How I viewed service as a part of my life was reaffirmed in the moments after the pandemic. I knew I was following the right path,” said Jasmin. “Arriving back home last year was when I realized I could actually do service in my community, and that volunteering would become a core part of my life’s journey.” 

Jasmin Bach (she/her) graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Anthropology. She is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who was recently evacuated from Ecuador due to the pandemic. She has a passion to do good and is excited to do so close to home. During her service with Serve the Moment she served with The Neighborhood Developers to build community and support St. Luke’s Food Pantry to provide food for individuals experiencing food insecurity. Jasmin will be spending 10 months working with The Neighborhood Developers as an Americorps volunteer.

Investing in Community through Service

“Working with my service site, About Fresh, has been incredibly impactful. It’s been a powerful experience witnessing community members gain access to fresh food using food access programs like SNAP and knowing I play an important role in making that happen,” said Repair the World Boston Corps Member, Brianna when reflecting on her time of service.

“Parents are willing to stand in line for over an hour to ensure that their families are able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.” For Brianna, it is more than a moment for her, it is a reflection on her past. Brianna grew up living on mostly canned goods and often did not have access to fresh produce unless provided through the kindness of strangers at local churches. “It was years before I was able to introduce fresh and healthy food to my daily nutrition because of my upbringing,” said Brianna. “I think all of the volunteers feel the impact of our work, but it’s different for me because I understand how big of a difference organizations like About Fresh make. Because of our presence in the community, these children will now have a more positive relationship with food.”

Brianna often reflects on the narrative that blames parents living in poverty for not giving their children the best food, when the issue truly lies within equitable access to proper nutrition. “The shift comes when we meet these families where they’re at, ensuring they have access to important resources.”

Curiosity and asking meaningful questions are values that have been central to Brianna’s relationship with Judaism. She spent four years converting to Judaism and during that time learned how important it was to never stop asking questions. “It was refreshing to dig deeper in a way I hadn’t before,” said Brianna. As a Corps Member, she’s been able to expand her curiosity in meaningful ways. “Our weekly cohort meeting is not only a time to reflect but to also challenge what we experience and to explore the reasons why we serve. Being a part of a program where we have the space to challenge others as well as ourselves makes the experience that much richer. This experience has become a ‘coming home’ moment in some ways. I’m surrounded by other people who also push themselves and don’t accept things for what they are.”

While serving with Repair the World Boston Brianna witnessed real relationships being built while serving others, creating a volunteering experience that was not fleeting or a temporary bandage to society’s issues. “It’s so much more powerful to think longer term when serving. I know that I can still sign up to volunteer with my local community beyond Serve the Moment and that is so important to me. Like donors who make recurring donations to organizations, I see volunteering as an investment in my community and it’s members. It’s the consistency of the support and building relationships beyond a singular service moment that makes a real difference.”

Brianna sees service and Judaism as intertwined, both offering ways to strengthen and uplift their communities. “What I love about Judaism is that the community finds ways to make others feel welcomed and not alone. Service is such a beautiful expression of that. For me, service has strengthened my connection to Judaism by allowing me to be a part of a group of people who truly care about their community. There is a distinct sense of belonging and love that makes a person feel like they really matter.”

Brianna Elise Goodlin (she/her) has worked as a consultant and her work has been driven by a passion for helping people navigate seemingly intractable problems and find solutions in unexpected places. This also animates her personal life, where she spends time doing work for various causes including combating food insecurity, alleviating poverty, and increasing access to education. As a Corps Member, Brianna served at Beantown Jewish Gardens helping expand their reach through marketing and engagement, and with AboutFresh, distributing fresh food to underserved communities in Boston.

Serving in Pursuit of Social Justice

Because of volunteers, our partners at the Kings Bay Y Pantry have been able to almost double the amount of people they feed each month. They went from serving 500 people a month to serving 800 people because of the power of service. Ilana Ascher was a critical part of this change through her work with Repair the World NYC. “I didn’t grow up volunteering. When I applied for the Repair the World Fellowship, my focus was on social justice. I now see how service plays a vital role in pursuing justice, which is a value I am incredibly passionate about,” said Ilana. “I quickly realized that if I was going to ‘walk the walk’ when it came to social justice, I was going to have to strengthen my connection to service.”

Now in her second year as a Repair the World fellow, Ilana works closely on the intersections of food justice and volunteering, with her service partners, Hunger Free America and Kings Bay Y Pantry. “I am amazed by the growth of not only myself, but of the organizations we work with since I started serving with them,” said Ilana as she reflected on the past year. “Working with Hunger Free America has taught me about how severe food insecurity in the city is and the importance of programs like SNAP and other food access resources,” said Ilana. “I’m connecting community members to critical information about food access programs and I train people every week on how to ensure the local community has access to these important programs through phone banking.”

When thinking back on past training sessions she hosted, Ilana is proud of the reach the programs have in the community. “I didn’t know much about SNAP or other programs like it and I didn’t know how I was going to get those resources out to people who need them,” said Ilana. “The more I trained people and immersed myself in the work the easier it became. I didn’t just spend a few hours learning about SNAP, for me, making sure the information was equitably accessible was an integral piece to serving my community.”

“I’ve noticed that there are groups of volunteers that serve consistently. It’s an amazing thing to see. We’re trusted by our service partners and I believe that our volunteers sense that and as a result are more willing to come back and volunteer.”

Ilana Ascher is a senior fellow with Repair the World, where she recently completed her first year living and working in Harlem. Ilana has become a part of the Jewish community in New York City and looks forward to continuing to strengthen these relationships. Additionally, through working closely with the community and spending time at organizations such as Hunger Free America and East Harlem Tutorial Program, Ilana has learned so much more about New York City and the inequity and severity of issues such as food justice and racial justice (as well as their intersection) in the city. Through living in Harlem, Ilana has learned more about how gentrification affects neighborhoods and how her own presence has a tangible impact that can be harmful. She hopes to use this experience to continue to work responsibly in New York City, and during her additional year at Repair, she is working to fight against systemic issues such as anti-black racism that are exacerbated through gentrification.