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New Initiative Connects Seniors and Other Vulnerable Populations with Tech-Savvy Volunteers to Help Navigate Complicated Vaccine Appointment Systems

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Jason Edelstein

510/239-1102

New Initiative Connects Seniors and Other Vulnerable Populations with Tech-Savvy Volunteers to Help Navigate Complicated Vaccine Appointment Systems

Successful Pilot Program Now Replicated Nationwide

(NEW YORK) — The Vaccine Appointment Network‘s project template helps communities connect tech-savvy volunteers with seniors and other vulnerable populations to help them get appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine. Powered by Repair the World, the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center in Washington DC (EDCJCC), and Hillel at the George Washington University (GW Hillel), the Networks’ first training session included hundreds of participants from organizations around the country. Organizations can access the Network’s toolkit to start building a local program to match volunteers to vaccine-eligible community members locally.

“We’re building a network of organizations and young people who are committed to helping the most vulnerable get this vaccination,” said Jordan Fruchtman, Senior Director of the Jewish Service Alliance at Repair the World, which mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. “The model is proven to work, and by providing an easy-to-use project template for communities to adapt the program locally, we can impact thousands of lives.”

EDCJCC and GW Hillel launched the model in Washington, D.C. by connecting their community’s population of seniors with student volunteers, respectively,

“Young people want to make a difference and help at risk older adults to better navigate the complex vaccine system and secure appointments,” says Reuben Rotman, President/CEO of NJHSA, which is sharing the Vaccine Appointment Network’s Toolkit with its Network. “We’re excited to bring this much needed program model to front line Jewish human service agencies and their clients.”

By putting out a call to their population eligible for the vaccine, EDCJCC recruited 200 seniors for the program in one week. A similar call from GW Hillel for volunteers resulted in 100 sign ups—just in the first week. They’ve now matched 200 seniors with volunteers.

“The COVID-19 vaccine registration process is tedious, frustrating, and emotional for many, but especially for our country’s most vulnerable,” says volunteer Sarah Boxer of George Washington University’s Class of 2022. “After a year of immense trauma and suffering, older adults should not need to navigate ten different websites and compete with younger, faster typers for a potentially life-saving vaccine. The Vaccine Sign-Up Support project found a way to build companionship and community out of an exhausting process. It feels incredible to be part of the GW Hillel community knowing that we are willing to take meaningful action to help when a need arises.”

Background

The COVID-19 vaccine roll out in the United States is in desperate need of volunteers. Eligible community members across the country,  particularly seniors over 65, are struggling to navigate the complex online systems needed to schedule an appointment to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Young adults make ideal volunteers for this effort, with native internet skills and a desire to support their communities.

Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC (EDCJCC)  and  Hillel at the George Washington University (GW Hillel)  pioneered a successful approach to this problem by connecting EDCJCC’s population of seniors with GW Hillel’s population of student volunteers. Repair the World loved this model – and we wanted to bring a similar strategy to as many communities as possible. Recognizing that a hyper-localized vaccine roll-out required a local approach,  Repair the World  set out to replicate EDCJCC and GW Hillel’s materials to create a templated vaccine sign-up support program toolkit for any local community to adapt to their needs.

According to Jewish tradition, someone who saves a life is credited as if they have saved an entire world. By supporting vulnerable community members in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, we have a chance to live out the Jewish value of piku’ach nefesh (saving a soul) in a direct and meaningful way.

The Vaccine Appointment Network is a project template for a community-based program matching tech-savvy volunteers with eligible community members (focusing on seniors ages 65+) for support navigating the COVID-19 vaccine appointment process.

Dialogue, events, foster equity, inclusion during Social Justice Week

This article originally appeared in The University of Miami’s [email protected] on February 22nd, 2021.

Last week, students across the University of Miami’s Coral Gables Campus participated in various discussions and events as part of the Butler Center for Service and Leadership’s annual Social Justice Week. The programming, supported by multiple student organizations and campus departments, aimed to promote dialogues, experiential activities, and initiatives that foster equity, justice, and inclusion to bridge gaps within the campus community.

The final virtual event, “Beyond the U,” discussed homelessness, gentrification, and food insecurity in the Miami community. The discussion took place in partnership with Repair the World Miami, a local nonprofit that encourages communities to pursue a just world, and the University of Miami Hillel.

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The New York Jewish Week Daily Update

This article originally appeared in The New York Jewish Week on February 15th, 2021.

Repair the World and The Jewish Theological Seminary announced a strategic partnership to support alumni of the Repair the World Fellowship, which places volunteers with social justice agencies. Alumni of the program can now study with JTS faculty in courses on human rights, ethics and modern Jewish History, with steeply reduced tuition for a Midcareer Fellowship certificate program.

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Jewish orgs. in America advocating for social justice, advocate education

This article originally appeared in The Jewish Post on February 21st, 2021.

Repair the World and the Jewish Theological Seminary, two organizations advocating for Jewish education and social justice, are teaming up to cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders.

The two announced a strategic partnership to support the alumni of the Repair the World Fellowship and Repair the World Staff by offering reduced tuition to study at the seminary.

“The Jewish Theological Seminary is excited about partnering with Repair the World,” said Missy Present, chief enrollment officer at JTS. “The combination of social justice training and higher education instruction can help set students up for a successful career in the social justice sector.”

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Vaccine Appointment Network Webinar

Thursday, February 25, 12pm ET / 9am PT

REGISTER TODAY

The COVID-19 vaccine roll out in the United States is in desperate need of volunteers. Seniors across the country are struggling to navigate the complex online systems needed to schedule an appointment to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Young adults make ideal volunteers for this effort, with native internet skills and a desire to support their communities. 

We want to help you address this critical need in your local community. Powered by Repair the World, EDCJCC, and GW Hillel, the Vaccine Appointment Network is a turnkey project template for a community-based program matching young, tech-savvy volunteers with seniors aged 65+ for support navigating the COVID-19 vaccine appointment process.

If you’re an organization who works with seniors in need of vaccine support or if your organization works with young adults energized to volunteer, join us on Thursday, February 25 at 12pm ET / 9am PT for an introductory webinar.

By the end of the webinar, you’ll have access to a full project toolkit—including draft emails, volunteer management best practices, and sample documents—to make organizing a Vaccine Appointment Network in your local community a possibility. 

The Edge: What’s Different About This Recession and Why That Matters to Higher Ed

This article originally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education on February 17th, 2021.

Three weeks ago, the Hillel chapter at George Washington University began working with a local Jewish community center to help older residents of the D.C. region navigate the digital obstacles to sign up for coveted Covid-19 vaccines. Tech-savvy college students stepping up? Cool, I thought — not to mention a great model for all sorts of other student groups.

The project has since expanded, with more than 250 students and alumni from GW and neighboring colleges now volunteering to help seniors get appointments for the jab. And the effort is going national. The Hillel chapter is sharing its training materials and FAQs with an organization called Repair the World so that volunteers in other communities can work with local organizations to offer a similar service. Adena Kirstein, executive director of the GW Hillel chapter, said Repair the World, which is better positioned to scale up the program, could be promoting new partnerships within weeks.

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Beth Samuel’s small religious school perseveres through pandemic

This article originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on February 15th, 2021.

Older students have hour-long Sunday experiential activities and discussions, complemented by asynchronous Hebrew language lessons, said Homich. During a recent session, a conversation about the Torah’s mandate to care for pets was followed by a crafting activity in partnership with Repair the World Pittsburgh. Participants made a chew toy for dogs and a catnip pretzel for cats. The items will be donated to the Beaver County Humane Society, and a future project is planned with PJ Library.

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Jewish college students volunteer to help local seniors register for vaccine

This article originally appeared in The Forward on February 14th, 2021.

In less than a month, the JCC-Hillel initiative has registered 105 seniors for vaccines as of Thursday morning, according to Adena Kirstein, the executive director of the GW Hillel. More than 780 seniors have requested assistance via the program, and around 300 people have signed up to volunteer — two-thirds of them, students. Now, the group is in touch with Repair the World, the Jewish community service nonprofit, discussing strategies for bringing their grassroots effort nationwide.

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She’s Got Next: 30 Women Who Are Shaping Baltimore’s Future

This article originally appeared in Baltimore Magazine on February 11th, 2021.

The idea of tikkun olam—repairing the world—has been Dressin’s message ever since she became an ordained rabbi nine years ago. First, as founder and director of Charm City Tribe, an initiative to engage young adults interested in Jewish culture, and now through her work at Repair the World Baltimore, which mobilizes Jews to take action to pursue a just world.

“Jewish tradition teaches . . . that there are things we can accomplish together we could not possibly accomplish on our own,” Dressin says. Building relationships that are substantive and not just transactional is so important in a hyper-segregated city like Baltimore, she says. “The particular callings and imperatives of Judaism require me to work closely with those who are not like me—who don’t share the same faith, or the same skin color, or the same history—but who share in the work to build a more whole and just world for all people.”

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Interview with Serve the Moment UVA Campus Corps Member

This video originally appeared on the Brody Jewish Center – Hillel at UVA Facebook page on February 2nd, 2021.

This year the Brody Center was fortune to be selected as a Serve the Moment campus with Repair the World! Meet Jackie, our Serve the Moment Campus Corps Member. This semester she’ll be designing service opportunities for her peers and helping connect Jewish UVA students with needs in our local Charlottesville community!

“The way that I’m connected most to Judaism is through different service opportunites, so I think it’s a really nice way to bring the community together and that’s how I feel the strongest connection to the values and texts in Judaism.

I also really like community service because it brings groups of people together from diverse backgrounds who wouldn’t necessarily come together if it weren’t for these service opportunities.”

Watch Here