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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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Reflecting On Service In BIPOC Majority Communities

When Megan stepped into the role of fellow at Repair the World Detroit in 2020, she was quickly impassioned to engage the BIPOC community in Detroit by creating spaces to connect and build community, through the power of service. “I wanted to reimagine how we engage with our BIPOC communities more meaningfully,” Megan said. 

Megan and Repair the World Detroit fellows began creating stories around volunteering that was being led by Black owned service partners and highlighting them on social media. Rather than just disseminating information, the fellows created dialogues by asking the community questions surrounding service and its connection to Detroit and its history. “Something that was important to us was to not only uplift the work we were doing but to create spaces for the community to express what service meant to them.” Megan used this passed MLK Day and Black History Month as a springboard for how she envisioned engaging with Detrioters in impactful service while uplifting Detroit’s history and the voices of BIPOC’s. 

“We are not in partnership with as many BIPOC led partner organizations as we’d like to be,” said Megan. Repair the World Detroit used this as an opportunity to uplift Black led organizations in Detroit that were serving their communities and creating space to build partnerships. “This was a way for us to use our resources and our audience to elevate these organizations doing amazing work,” Megan said.

The fellows also found ways to tap into Detroit’s rich Black history by highlighting Black led organizations that not only served their communities in the past, like Dunbar Hospital – the first Black hospital in Detroit, but Black led organizations that continue to serve their communities today, like Detroit Heals Detroit – an organization combating trauma amongst young Black people while dismantling oppressive systems for marginalized Detroit youth and a service partner of Repair the World Detroit. “Black history isn’t just a thing of the past but something currently being made today,” Megan said. Sarah Allyn, Executive Director of Repair the World Detroit says, “We honor the past by uplifting the present and investing in the future. Part of doing that is by uplifting these voices.”

Megan’s goal for the remainder of her fellowship is to continue working towards strengthening the connection between Repair the World and the communities being served. Megan said, “We’re really thinking about this moment as us planting the seeds for building strong relationships with the communities we serve in the coming years and bridging the gaps, allowing us to make a more meaningful impact.”

Megan is currently a social media fellow at Repair the World Detroit where she is expanding her skills in effectively progressing the betterment of marginalized communities as well as learning more about Judaism and the history of solidarity between the Jewish and Black community. She was a part of the multifaith internship cohort with the Truitt Center for Religious & Spiritual Life at her university. There she envisioned, planned, and executed educational and cultural events such as Diwali, Eid, and Holi that effectively reached more than 150+ students collectively. She has a passion for learning about different religious/worldviews and promoting civil dialogue on various topics. 

Because It’s Our Turn: Thoughts on NextGen Philanthropy

This article originally appeared on the Atlanta Jewish Foundation website on March 30th 2021. 

Arogeti also empowers the NextGen Legacy groups to be very specific about their personal priorities. “For example, tell your family, ‘I’m interested in environmental projects that lower carbon footprint. How can you support me in that?” Jonathan is a founding member of the Repair the World Advisory Council and makes his own gift, but he also asks his family to make a gift to amplify the commitment. “They do it because I asked them,” he says. “It’s tremendously empowering!”   

 

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Grist 50 2021

This article first appeared on Grist. 

A few years ago, Yoshi Silverstein began dreaming about a community center that could weave together the threads of his life — fitness and movement, his Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, a love of nature, and outdoor teaching and leadership. At the time, he was directing a fellowship within the burgeoning JOFEE movement — Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education — but wanted to create something tangible and local.

 

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Passover Wish List

This article originally appeared on the Atlanta Jewish Foundation website. 

Repair the World Atlanta mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We support grassroots Atlanta organizations working toward housing, food, and education justice.

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Repair the World’s Haggadah Insert: Ten Plagues on Housing Injustice

This article originally appeared in Boulder Jewish News on March 26th, 2021. 

Each year on Passover, Jews and their communities gather around Seder tables and open the door for Elijah, a messenger of hope, as we retell the story of Exodus. This #Passover, join us to #ServeTheMoment and open the door to housing justice.

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