Passion Shines Bright

I was honored to be invited to serve on the Repair The World (Repair) Delegation.  As the manager of Community Partnerships for the Miami chapter of Common Threads, a national non-profit, I interacted with  Repair – Miami as the organization explored partnership opportunities for their incoming fellows. I attended the Service Unites Conference as a member of the Repair Delegation because of  the opportunity to convene in the historic city of Atlanta with people from all over the country who are actively engaged and committed to service and volunteerism to create positive change in their community and the world.  As a chosen member of the 40+ person team, I was joined by people from different parts of the country and was one of the few non-Jewish, and only African-American delegate, I brought that perspective with me to all the activities and conversations and I fully embraced the opportunity to learn about the rich Jewish culture and religion.

Although I have worked in the non-profit sector for the past eight years, I had never participated in a conference with the scope or size as Service Unites.  Being with over 2,200 people who were passionate about various causes was a powerful reminder that I am not alone, and I felt a sense of community and connection amongst strangers.  The lessons that were reinforced to me over the three-day conference were:

  1. The importance of diversity.
  2. Passion as a catalyst for change.  

The Opening Plenary was held in the historic Fox Theater was my top highlight of the week and did an excellent job of setting energy and tone for the days to come.  The themes discussed were water, youth, and women. The presenters represented a diverse range of colors, religions, ages, ethnic backgrounds, economic status, and impact capacity. Although the content was varied, the passion that each of the speakers and panelists brought was palpable, giving me goosebumps and at times moving me to tears. Through all these differences, the commonality was that each person was driven and inspired to create change through the means, resources, and talents they had available to them – they all lived passion and purpose driven lives. They were each a powerful example of living and serving others and inspiring people to join them in being part of that change. My favorite presentation was the spoken word poem that was performed by Storytelling Activist Amal Kassir. She used her Muslim-American culture and religion as a backdrop to express her experience of inequities as of late in this country through recent policies and procedures that have been put into place and create separation and disconnection among her people in this country.  

The display of passion and emotion was beautifully demonstrated many times in the heartfelt and emotional addresses that Chairman of the Points of Light Board, Neil Bush, shared during the Opening Plenary and the Closing Ceremony. He shared openly and vulnerably about his parents, Former First Lady Barbara Bush and Former President George W. H. Bush, and the lessons that he learned from them about being in service to support others in the best and worst of times.  He gave a teary-eyed reflection about the importance of being accountable to each other and ourselves for the progress and state of the world and communities that we live in. I was fortunate to meet Neil in the hallway in between sessions and I thanked him for being open, vulnerable, and authentic with his words and emotions. I told him that it is my personal belief that when we each show up authentically and allow ourselves to be seen, we become a mirror for others to see themselves too.  It humanizes us. It allows compassion to flow freely. It creates connection, and as my mentor, Founder of the Connection Coalition, Terri Cooper Space says, “Connection is the cure.” I believe that what we need more of is to give each other permission to shine our lights and illuminate the world in a significant and much needed way.

Throughout the weekend, Neil presented two people, actor Jesse Williams and NBA player Dwight Howard, with the Point of Light honor.  Over 6,000 of these awards have been presented over the years. While it was special to see this honor given to them for their important work and dedication, what really stood out to me was that everyone in the room is truly a point of light, and in those three days we all came together to grow, share, learn, and inspire each other to continue to shine through service and volunteerism.  We did this by celebrating and embracing our diversity, living with passion for the causes and issues that we care about and affect us, and believing that a small difference is actually a big difference.

I felt that the Service Unites Conference gave me permission and access to resources to shine my light and be bright!  

Shanté Haymore-Kearney is a champion for community empowerment, health, and wellness. Shante’ has a diverse professional work portfolio which includes over seven years as a marketing and community relations strategist within various business sectors including, national non-profits, international sports organizations, and corporate retailers.

Her dedication to creating positive change and personal empowerment is evident through her personal endeavors as well. She has been a certified yoga teacher since 2011. She founded a wellness company, Inner Inspiration, that teaches “Tools for Mindful Living.”  She has guided hundreds of people to connect with their inner peace and personal power through yoga, meditation, vision boards, prayer, and mindfulness in classes, workshops, retreats, and online content. Shanté has been a member of the service teams of Miami­-based non­profits Unity on the Bay, Connection Coalition (fka Yoga Gangsters), and Gratitude Training Leadership Program.

Haymore-Kearney received her degree in Business Administration from Florida A&M University and her Masters of Sports Administration from Northwestern University.  One of her proudest accomplishments was as an NCAA Division I Volleyball student-athlete when she was named Conference Player of the Year in 2000 and 2001. Shante’ balances her work life, yoga, and meditation teaching, along with being a mom to a 2-year-old and a wife.  She currently resides in her hometown of Miami, FL but is planning to relocate to Atlanta, GA to start a new chapter for her and her family.

Facebook & Instagram: @inspirationbyshante

 

Atlanta Opens Arms to Repairing Our World

This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Jewish Times on June 28, 2018.

By Sarah Moosazadeh

Jewish values, a strong identity and affinity toward service are traits Repair the World aims to promote among Jews. The nonprofit hopes to expand that viewpoint this summer by launching its eighth community in Atlanta.

Read More

Shabbat for a Fair Trade Cause

This article originally appeared on Reconstructing Judaism on June 15, 2018.

On the Friday night before World Fair Trade Day, people from across Philadelphia gathered in the reception hall of the Philadelphia Ethical Society for a night of Jewish learning, locally-sourced food, and provoking conversation about ethical purchasing. Inspired by her work in our Fair Trade Reconstructionist Learning Network, Jessica Herrmann, team leader at Repair the World Philadelphia, crafted a Fair Trade Shabbat dinner to coincide with the worldwide celebration. World Fair Trade Day, which occurs annually on the second Saturday in May, celebrates fair trade learning and practice. For many Jewish communities across North America, the holiday offers a chance to take a closer look at Jewish values present in fair trade, and Repair the World’s Fair Trade Shabbat dinner took this opportunity in stride.

Read More

Essay: Reflections on #ActNowHouston

This article originally appeared in The Jewish News on June 14, 2018.

By Max Feber

I got involved with Repair the World through the PeerCorps program when I was only a sophomore in high school. Since then, I’ve volunteered dozens of times with RTW and have worked hard to help bridge the gap between the city and the suburbs. The work was always very hard. Whether we were building an ice rink, farming at one of the urban gardens or painting a mural, we always left feeling tired and rewarded. Tired after a long day’s work, I would go home, eat dinner and crawl right into bed.

Read More

How We Answer the Storm in Houston

This article originally appeared in eJewish Philanthropy on June 14, 2018.

By Jeremy Wood

Eight months after Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, the major news networks’ focus has moved on. Yet amid national silence, the local crisis continues, festering like the mold behind flooded walls that were covered up too quickly while their foundations rotted inside. Many Houstonians remain unable to return home and the city predicts a 10-year recovery, barring future calamities.

Read More

Detroit Group Helps In Recovery From Harvey

This article originally appeared in the Jewish Herald-Voice on June 7, 2018.

A group of alumni from Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit went to Houston May 30, Memorial Day Weekend, to volunteer and aid in the continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. They volunteered with Door l’Door (which provides new mezuzahs to families that may have lost them in disaster), Undies for everyone, SBP and West Street Recovery.

Read More

Memorial Day Weekend: Repair The World PeerCorps Alumni From Detroit To Aid Hurricane Harvey Recovery

This article originally appeared on This Week in Texas on May 30, 2018.

By Steve Pardue

A group of alumni from Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit (they were high school students during the program and now are college students) went to Houston for volunteer service and learning to aid in the continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. In Houston they volunteered with Door l’door, Undies for everyone, SBP, and West Street Recovery.

Read More

Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit Visits Houston to Aid in Hurricane Repairs

This article originally appeared on Hot in Houston on June 3, 2018.

When hurricane recovery is still in progress months later after the huge disaster, Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit alumni decided to make Houston their destination for volunteer service in continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.

Read More

US College Graduates Take Up Faith-Based Service

This story originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor on May 31, 2018.

By Dan Lothian

From New York City to Los Angeles, college graduates are signing up for faith-based service before hitting the job market. Faith service groups are often more trusted in inner city communities, have ties to well-established leaders, and have a built-in network of local supporters. “I’m really not taking a year off, I’m taking a year on,” says Miriam Lipschutz, a volunteer growing fresh produce at the Jewish non-profit organization Repair the World.

Read More

Reflections and Learnings on 10 Months of “Act Now”

This article originally appeared in eJewish Philanthropy on May 25, 2018.

By Laura Belinfante

Act Now. It’s vague but attention-grabbing. It is a command to do something. The “what,” of course, is open to interpretation. For years, Repair the World has used the words, “Act Now,” in the context of MLK Day to call on and to empower young Jews to engage in local service opportunities and learn about racial justice (the campaign name itself derived from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s repeated call to act with “the fierce urgency of now”). On each MLK Day, a national day of service, we helped organize and curate volunteer service throughout the country and offered relevant resources to help spur challenging conversations and reflections. By most measures, the campaigns were successful.

Read More