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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.

The Masters in Development Practice within the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University Launches New Partnership with Repair the World to Support Repair the World Fellows and Alumni

For Immediate Release
May 3, 2021

Contact: Zack Block, Senior Director of Communities, Repair the World,  [email protected] & Chan Williams, Academic and Student Affairs Coordinator, Master’s in Development Practice, [email protected]   

The Masters in Development Practice within the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University Launches New Partnership with Repair the World to Support Repair the World Fellows and Alumni

Atlanta, GA — Repair the World, a National Jewish social justice service organization, and Emory University today announced a strategic partnership to support current fellows and alumni of Repair the World Communities fellowship who are accepted and enrolled full time to the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) at The James T. Laney School of Graduate studies.

“This partnership between Repair the World and the MDP program is a match made in heaven!  We share the same vision of forming talented young people to be effective change-makers in the world. Given their community engagement experience and commitment to social justice, fellows are an ideal fit for the MDP program and will thrive at Emory University. They will gain a diverse set of skills and insights that will enable them to move on to impactful and rewarding careers in the development and humanitarian field“ said Dr. Carla Roncoli, Director of the Emory MDP program.

The two year-long fellowship program connects Jewish young adults with local opportunities to make a meaningful difference in their community. Atlanta is one of six cities where the program currently operates. As a result of this partnership, Repair fellows and alumni will receive:

  • Waived application fee for MDP applicants
  • At least one Strategic Partner scholarship equal to at least 30% of tuition per academic year
  • Consideration for additional merit-based tuition scholarships that may be offered during the admission cycle. 

“We are excited about the opportunities this partnership provides for our fellows and alumni. Because of this partnership Repair the World fellows and fellow alumni will have access to a stellar and rigorous program that will strengthen their field based knowledge and practice of sustainable development that will prepare them for a continued commitment to serving and uplifting their community in a dynamic and meaningful way,” said Cindy Greenberg, CEO of Repair the World.

Emory’s MDP program is a two year course of study and practice that builds on an organic fusion of core scientific disciplines, programmatic skills, and experiential learning through globally- and locally-focused internships and field practicums. The program capitalizes on its partnership with a vast network of  leading development and humanitarian institutions and community-based organizations. These partners’ global reach will provide students with invaluable exposure to the way development practitioners operate in the real world and with a perspective on the different institutional contexts in which they will serve after completion of their degrees.

The James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in advancing academic excellence through innovative scholarship, research, teaching, and programming that prepares a diverse and inclusive student body for success as leaders and in service to the global good. 

Repair the World mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We believe service in support of social change is vital to a flourishing Jewish community and an inspired Jewish life. By 2030, Repair will inspire and catalyze one million acts of service towards repairing the world.

More information about Repair the World’s university partnerships can be found by visiting https://werepair.org/universitypartnerships/. If you’re looking to volunteer virtually, please check out our opportunities on our website – https://werepair.org/volunteer

More information about the Master’s in Development Practice can be found by visiting: https://www.emory.edu/mdp  You may also visit the James T. Laney Graduate School website: https://www.gs.emory.edu 

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Strengthening Communities and Jewish Values

At the start of the pandemic, Rafael found himself thinking intensely about how to get his neighbors and community through an incredibly difficult reality. “It’s pretty easy to be wrapped up in your own life, but something I truly value is realizing that your time should also be dedicated to helping others. That can take shape in many different ways,” said Rafael. For Rafael, who lives in Denver,  joining the Serve the Moment Service Corps was a way to support his community in significant ways and be connected to the Jewish community in a way he hadn’t been in a long time. 

There were several moments of being a Corps Member that solidified Rafael’s Jewish value of strengthening members of his community but most recently, Rafael was placed to serve at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic which was launched to more equitably disseminate the vaccine to marginalized populations. “Communities at higher risk or with an increased level of skepticism were able to come and get vaccinated in a setting that was more comfortable for them,” said Rafael. “Many of the patients were Spanish speaking or didn’t speak much English and I served as their interpreter and helped them book appointments for the second dose of the vaccine.”  

While serving at the vaccine site, Rafael met a 63 year old man who had never been vaccinated before. Like Rafael, he was born in Mexico and they immediately connected through their common nationality. He shared with Rafael that this was his first time getting vaccinated and he was motivated to get the shot because he had lost someone close to him to COVID-19. “I could see the struggle and the pain he was in and I believe having someone there he felt comfortable sharing his story with made a huge difference.” Rafael worked with several people at the site who were nervous or scared for many reasons, including being reported for being undocumented or general fear and misunderstanding surrounding the vaccine. “My job was to also reassure them. We needed to make sure they came back for their second shot.” One woman he scheduled broke down in tears. “She expressed to me how relieved she was because now she would be able to see her family for the first time in over a year.”

Since volunteering at the vaccine site, Rafael has dedicated his time as a Corps Member towards pursuing food justice in the Denver community through his placement with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG). “I’ve seen the positive impact of people addressing food insecurity by building their own urban gardens and ensuring that nutritious food gets to the hands of those who need it the most,” said Rafael.  

Rafael continues to strengthen his connection to the Jewish community and his values through Serve the Moment. “My work as a Corps Member has opened my eyes to many things that define what a community is. I’ve not only become closer to my community members but I’ve also learned how powerful service is in making a positive impact in the lives of everyone here in Denver.”

Rafael Levy is originally from Mexico City and moved to the U.S. seven years ago. He is currently a student at CU Denver and manages a coffee shop. He is passionate about serving his community and is eager to use his time to learn and uplift those around him.

Sunny’s Community Garden to Provide Fresh Food in the Hill

This article originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on April 26th 2021. 

Sarah Schanwald is a fellow with the Pittsburgh chapter of Repair The World, whose mission embraces the Jewish concept of tikkun olam. She helped drum up some of the volunteers last week on Earth Day.

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Crown Heights Community Coming Together to #MakeCrownHeightsShine

This article originally appeared in Crown Heights News on April 19th 2021. 

This coming Sunday, April 25th, Repair the World Brooklyn, The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, The Office of Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, One Crown Heights, Brooklyn Community Board 9, Neighbors in Action/SOS, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, The UJA Federation of New York, and Clean Up Crown Heights are co-hosting a community-wide project named “#MakeCrownheightsShine – A Community Clean Up”. We are putting out the call to inspire all Crown Heights residents, organizations and businesses to participate in cleaning our neighborhood.

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Creating Meaningful Relationships and Spaces Through Service

For Ella Fies, her passion for prison abolition and social justice has always been a guiding principle behind her work volunteering in her community. “In college, I was heavily involved in work with incarcerated girls and women, running female empowerment programs in juvenile detention centers,” said Ella while reflecting on her early service experience. 

Ella came into the fellowship undecided about whether or not to pursue law or social work. But it was abundantly clear during Ella’s first year as a fellow that she realized service/social work would be the best way for her to focus on the emotional wellbeing of people. Ella is now in her second year of the fellowship and is working with Ladies Empowerment and Action Program (LEAP) in Miami, Florida. LEAP provides transformational education, entrepreneurial training, and mentorship to women during and after prison. 

As her work with Repair the World Miami shifted as a result of the pandemic, Ella has been able to deepen her connection and lean into her relationship with her service partner. “I’ve gotten to build meaningful rapport with many of the women who have been formerly incarcerated. For me that has been the most fulfilling thing in the world – getting to have deep and meaningful human connections,” said Ella. “The women and I support each other. Every single day I’m educated on issues that I don’t know about, in ways that I wouldn’t be without my connection to these women. There is also meaning in the different services I’m able to help provide as they re-enter their community from prison.”

Ella finds that building relationships is core to her well being and growth and being able to hold these relationships while impacting others has become a significant part of her life. “What I’ve really appreciated about the Repair the World fellowship is that creating meaningful relationships is so fundamental to our service work,” said Ella. “Curiosity and asking the hard and scary questions is so important to me. I feel like the fellowship has allowed me to do that in a lot of impactful ways.” Ella has also found ways to create spaces for women outside of the fellowship by hosting her own monthly share circles. “Every month we have vulnerable and emotional conversations around issues that matter to us, like body image and sexuality.”

When reflecting on service during the pandemic Ella says, “There is still so much care in getting to know the people in the communities we serve – I have always been concerned with really listening when they share what their needs are. When we saw inequality gaps widening, it was natural for us to pay closer attention.” Repair the World Miami hosts volunteer opportunities based on specific community needs. Ella says, “Miami has the lowest volunteer rate of any major US city, so Repair the World fills this essential need to connect volunteers to nonprofits here because the amount of people using their free time to volunteer is so low.”

Service will continue to play a significant role in Ella’s life beyond the fellowship. As Ella thinks about the future, she is determined to continue strengthening the relationships she’s built with her service partners and the communities they serve. “I plan on taking the connections I’ve made with the women at LEAP with me as I continue on to grad school. I’m still in touch with the women (from LEAP) who’ve moved out of Miami. Those relationships mean a lot to me.”

Ella graduated from Elon University with a major in Human Services, and minors in Psychology, Women/Gender/Sexuality Studies, and Criminal Justice Studies. Before Repair, Ella launched and facilitated a female empowerment group at a local juvenile detention center. Ella is really passionate about the need for more gender-responsive programming for justice involved women. Coming into the fellowship Ella was excited for a multidisciplinary experience that would expose her to a multitude of social change initiatives and looked forward to being part of a meaningful community post-college. Repair’s focus on connecting with a cohort, as well as the local community is something that excited her. Fun fact: Ella studied abroad in Indonesia for a semester and conducted research on the commodification of yoga in Bali!

 

 

Your Daily Phil: Start-Up Nation Central launches New Research and Policy Institute + National Volunteer Week

This article originally appeared in EJewish Philanthropy on April 19th 2021. 

Yesterday was the first day of National Volunteer Week and Repair the World, a Jewish organization that facilitates volunteer opportunities, is focused on a vaccination project that has helped about 9,000 people get immunized since the campaign started last month, Cindy Greenberg, the group’s CEO, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

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Meet the New England Cohort of the Jewish Communal Women’s Leadership Project

This article originally appeared in Jewish Boston on April 13th 2021. 

Kate O’Bannon is participating in the JWI fellowship as senior director of strategy and an executive team member at Repair the World. O’Bannon is proud to work at her organization. “‘Make service’ is a defining element of American Jewish life. Our mission involves mobilizing Jews in their communities to take action in pursuit of a just world through service expressing Judaism and Jewish identity.” O’Bannon pointed out that Repair the World’s target demographic wants its Jewish communities to reflect multiracial and multiethnic groupings. To that end, Repair the World welcomes Jews and those who are not Jewish to work alongside one another in domestic social justice projects.

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KB Community Foundation goes Above, Beyond over Past Year

This article originally appeared in Islander News on April 11th 2021. 

“In partnership with Wellness in the Schools, World Central Kitchen, The Genuine Hospitality Group, Miami Dade College-Carrie Meek Campus, Himan Brown Charitable Trust, the Chief Press Foundation and Repair the World, KBCF has helped deliver over 21,000 meals … to needy families in Liberty City.”

 

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Start Here Jewish Anti-Racism Learning Cohort

This article first appeared on My Jewish Detroit’s Website. 

Sarah Allyn, Repair the World’s Executive Director, adds, “this fellowship is just one step in a long journey towards undoing the systems of racial oppression that are woven into the fabric of society. Our hope is that participants will not only have a profound experience of personal learning, but also begin to build a network and toolbox of skills they can use to further this work in their organizations and communities.”

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