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Direct Service in the Age of Coronavirus

This originally appeared in Jewish Philanthropy on April 30, 2020. 

During the Coronavirus pandemic direct service organizations are still mobilizing to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable. National Council of Jewish Women CEO, Sheila Katz, NCJW Board of Directors Vice President, Rabbi Lori Koffman, Repair the World CEO and President, Cindy Greenberg, and American Jewish World Service – AJWS Global Ambassador, Ruth Messinger shared ways on how one can help serve their community during this time. 

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I’m Dying to Be Able to See People

This originally appeared in The New York Jewish Week on April 29, 2020. 

“Several other Jewish groups have expanded their work with seniors since the coronavirus crisis began…Volunteers from Repair the World, the Jewish service organization, deliver food packages to isolated Holocaust survivors in South Brooklyn and keep in touch as pen pals, said Rachel Figurasmith, executive director of Repair the World NYC.”

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Repair the World with Mutual Aid

Repair the World with Mutual Aid!

Mutual Aid initiatives are responding to meet the heightened needs of people across communities. These networks have gained momentum in order to provide necessary relief from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Repair the World staff and Fellows are directly involved in mutual aid efforts. Check out our #MutualAid campaign below where you can learn more about what it is and how to get involved to support your neighbors!

EDIT: Mutual aid is an important way to support and be supported by the community. It has been a tool for grass-roots community care and support long before the pandemic shut down businesses across the country.  Due to the combined public health threats of COVID-19 and police brutality, both compounded by, the work of mutual aid very crucial right now. We are highlighting ways that you can get involved in local mutual aid initiatives and anti-racist actions that support our local communities.

Mutual Aid Slide 1: What is Mutual AidMutual Aid Slide 2: Neighbors coming together in a community-led movement to support those who face barriers to access resources and services.Mutual Aid Slide 3: Mutual Aid Is - centering the needs of those most impactedmutual aid slide 4#MutualAidMondays

Want to talk with a member of our team? Contact [email protected] to get connected or to share information about your mutual aid initiatives. Posted below are a sampling of initiatives across our communities that you can get involved with today.

  • National Listings of Mutual Aid Networks
    • Mutualaidhub.org
    • https://helpinghands.community/help
    • itsgoingdown.org/c19-mutual-aid/
    • Relief and Resources for Undocumented Immigrants
  • Detroit
    • Donate to Auntie Na’s Food Box Delivery Program through our partner organization, Detroit Jews For Justice.
    • Pass Your Bucks to redirect federal emergency stimulus dollars toward non-profit organizations supporting communities who are least likely to receive stimulus checks.
  • Pittsburgh
    • Support grocery access with Ratzon: Center for Healing and Resistance’s grocery fund! You can venmo @Ratzon-Food-Distro
    • Donate to neighbors through Open Hand Ministries for grocery/rent/mortgage support!
    • The Wellness Collective created the Community Delivery Hotline to ensure that folks with limited transportation and resources have access to their basic needs. Sign up to get resources delivered to you or volunteer to be a driver, intake coordinator, or switchboard operator.
    • Need support and/or can you provide relief to others? Get involved with the Pittsburgh Mutual Aid network!
    • Fundraise for or donate to the PGH Artists Emergency Fund to provide relief for artist/industry folks, many of whom cannot access unemployment and have lost all sources of income for the duration of the pandemic.
  • Chicago
    • Seniors, those living with disability, and folks living in food deserts are most at risk with the continual spread of the virus. Chicago Repair is working with partner: My Block, My Hood, My City to deliver groceries as well as response packages, to ensure access to hand sanitizer, health supplements, toiletries and food; to participate, email [email protected]

Mutual Aid brings together many elements which we value at Repair the World. Volunteers engage with  their communities to build and reify relationships across differences. Mutual Aid brings people together to directly address many of our major concerns, such as food insecurity, criminal justice, education justice and housing. Let’s work together to build communities we wish to live in, where all people can thrive together!

100 Charitable Ways Atlantans Can Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This originally appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 23, 2020.

Concrete Jungle and Repair the World Atlanta have partnered to create food depots in Atlanta and Decatur, where volunteers deliver groceries to those in need. Also, mentioned are 100 other ways Atlantans can help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In the Wake of the Pandemic, the Jewish Community is Inspired to Serve

This originally appeared in the Forward on April 23, 2020.

CEO and President of Repair the World, Cindy Greenberg analyzes a very important new study about the importance of service. The Jewish community can play an integral part in mobilizing service during the pandemic.

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How we are Repairing The World this National Volunteer Week

In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25), we are highlighting the incredible stories happening around the country during this time of global pandemic. Our Repair the World communities are acting now to fight for the most vulnerable in our societies, read more to see our impact and find ways to get involved:

ATLANTA:

In the spirit of Earth Day, Abigail Natelson, Repair the World Atlanta Fellow, helped lead our first ‘Mindfulness in the Garden Series’ (a virtual version of Farm Crew) that encourages participants to zoom in while outdoors. 

We created “signs of solidarity” in support of a campaign launched by local artists that asked residents to create and display colorful signs with positive messages for neighbors to see.

 

BALTIMORE:

Repair the World Baltimore hosted a Virtual Cocktails with a Conscience that allowed participants to do some meaning-making around the Passover holiday, think about the theme of what it means to find one’s individual purpose within a collective narrative, and discuss how to get involved locally even during a time of great uncertainty. 

 

BROOKLYN:

Caitlin Garbo, Repair the World Brooklyn Fellow, facilitated our first Virtual Art program through the Brooklyn Community Services‘ TLC program! Participants joined in creating art and writing letters to women currently living in a Brooklyn shelter. 

Caitilin reflected on the program saying, “I was inspired to begin the virtual art hour while quarantining because I missed making art and chatting with the clients each week. Whether we were interpreting poems, beading bracelets, or making snowflakes, every season and holiday we put up decorations and created art that filled the communal spaces with cheer. Now, words of encouragement and pages filled with springtime colors will be delivered to the program to try to mitigate feelings of isolation and perhaps bring some inspiration until full programming and communal gathering can return to normal within the shelter.”

If you’re interested in joining a project to send art and letters to local shelters or isolated older folks, please contact [email protected].

CHICAGO:

On March 27, Repair the World Chicago and One Table collaborated on a digital “A Neighborly Shabbat”. 

Together, we reviewed Repair the World’s Neighborly Letter and discussed ways to support hyperlocal neighbors and neighborhoods during this time. Participants engaged in ritual, broke bread, and built community during their Friday night Shabbat meal. 

 

DETROIT:

With all in-person volunteer programming canceled for March and April, Madeline Turner, Repair the World Detroit Fellow, helped find ways for our partners to continue their essential work under these circumstances. 

Keep Growing Detroit, a garden resource organization working to cultivate a food-sovereign Detroit, has had to get creative to maintain its two-acre farm and prepare seeds and transplants to distribute to thousands of Detroit gardeners without its usual support from hundreds of volunteers a week. With staff adjusting their hours to spend much of their time working at the farm, Madeline stepped up to the plate and found ways alongside our Detroit site, to support their work from home. She took the rest of the seeds home to Ann Arbor and with the help of her family, she was able to divide the larger bags of seeds into thousands of individual seed packets for Detroit growers to pick up at distribution and take home to their gardens.

HARLEM:

With the COVID-19 Pandemic disproportionately affecting older adults, Haley Schusterman, Repair the World Harlem Fellow, partnered with DOROT to help support their clients who may be experiencing increased social isolation and loneliness during this challenging time.

Haley participates in their Caring Calls program and forms connections by phone with an older adult—they chat weekly! Haley also creates birthday and holiday cards for older adults. Particularly now, DOROT’s clients may not have many other important social interactions. 

Haley shared, “I’ve enjoyed creating these cards so much that I’m running a virtual card making workshop this week to engage folks from around the country in supporting some of our most isolated neighbors!”

MIAMI:

Ella Fies, Repair the World Miami Fellow, engaged our community in Miami by teaching a virtual free yoga class with 40 people in attendance. The yoga class supports local organization Leap For Ladies who empowers incarcerated women. Ella mentioned, “I love teaching yoga and getting to share such an important practice with so many. It is totally a gift for me to get to do this every Sunday at 5!”

Join Ella in her efforts by heading to https://www.gofundme.com/f/leap-relief-fund

PHILADELPHIA:

On Friday, April 3rd, Repair the World Philadelphia, NextGen, and other local Jewish young professional groups brought together 102 community members to celebrate Shabbat with the uniting message of “even in isolation, we can still come together and welcome in the Sabbath.” Dani Horn, Program Director of Repair the World Philadelphia, led the Hamotzi, the blessing over the bread, and asked participants to think of those who may need nourishment at this time. As the virtual community reflected, people mentioned frontline workers, school children, and their own communities. It was important to acknowledge those in our community who may need support during this time. The program also included moments of joy and gratitude for blessings that have happened amidst the difficulty of COVID-19.

PITTSBURGH:

Maya Bornstein, Repair the World Pittsburgh Fellow, has been volunteering at the East End Cooperative Ministry’s Food Pantry, an interfaith coop which provides crucial access and services to meet the immediate needs of Pittsburghers, especially people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

Maya shared, “I have greatly enjoyed volunteering at the East End Cooperative Ministry’s Food Pantry the past month or so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Serving there has given me a sense of purpose and a safe reason to leave the house in order to work towards the goal of ensuring that every Pittsburgher’s human right to food access is met. The staff, other volunteers, patrons, and food donors give me comfort that even in tragic and uncertain circumstances people can come together to help each other and create meaning.”

Maya alongside Ilana Drucker (both Repair the World Pittsburgh Fellows) are also growing seedlings in the grow room above the food pantry to then plant in our nearby Sheridan Ave Orchard and Garden and to share with another community organization. The fresh produce harvested throughout the season will all go directly back to the pantry. Check out this virtual seed starting at-home program, video and directions! 

National Volunteer Week is coming to a close but it is not too late to volunteer and serve your community. If you are interested in additional ways to volunteer, virtually or in person, sign up for volunteer opportunities at werepair.org/volunteer.

CEO and President, Cindy Greenberg Featured on Panel – Direct Service in the Age of Coronavirus

NCJW hosted a panel on finding the balance between social distancing and meeting the needs of our communities. CEO and President of Repair the World, Cindy Greenberg appeared along with Sheila Katz of NCJW and Ruth Messinger of AJWS.

Watch Here

Families Continue Commitment to Serve

By Kate Thomas

My last family service project before COVID-19 chaos fully took hold was a family Purim celebration at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST). Recently, Senior Rabbi at CBST, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, reflected on lessons from the 90s AIDS crisis that are relevant to today’s pandemic. After reading this article, I felt a combination of uncertainty, strength and a commitment to serve. Just a few short weeks ago, I watched families dress up in costumes and make colorful school supply kits for our partners at East Harlem Tutorial Program, while hamantaschen were served with gloves and tongs, no one knew yet how this pandemic would change future holiday gatherings. 

Now, this project feels like a poignant precursor to how Jewish communities are reacting during this challenging time. We’re still faced with the uncertainty of what’s to come, but we carry on a commitment to service. I hear leaders asking how they can help, folks donating to their local pantries, and families eager to implement service projects into their kids’ time at home. 

At Repair the World, we are nationally engaging volunteers in virtual volunteering and learning opportunities. While we won’t be in person for the foreseeable future, we are thinking of all of you, and especially the families and communities most impacted by this pandemic. For now, we invite you and your family to join us for the many Jewish acts of strength and service we have to share. 

In celebration of Earth Day (4/22), we invite families across the country to join Repair the World Harlem on Sunday April 26th at 11:30-12:30pm from the comfort of your own home for Playdates with a Purpose! We’ll learn how to take care of our planet and lead an at-home project geared toward 3-6 year olds (all siblings are welcome). We’ll feature amazing live music by Tkiya Music and sing songs celebrating the planet. Join by Zoom to play and learn at home, together! Generously made possible by PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Register here to receive the link to join! 

While we don’t recommend children picking up trash outside at this time, here are some other safe and fun Earth Day actions you can do with your family! 

  • Make an art project out of recycled items
  • Plant and grow your own vegetables 
  • Make a bird feeder out of recycled items
  • Do a socially distanced nature walk and draw or take pictures along the way  
  • Create a spring garden sensory tub
  • Get a free digital edition of any Ranger Rick magazine
  • Donate to environmental justice organizations 
  • Advocate for better environmental initiatives locally and beyond
  • Find more Earth Day activities for kids here!

We hope your family is staying safe and hope to see you at an upcoming virtual project!

Kate Thomas is a Repair the World Fellowship Alumna and currently serves as the Family & Education Program Manager for Repair the World NYC.

Technology Buddy 101: Creating Tech-Savvy Seniors

This originally appeared in The Jewish News on April 20, 2020. 

Repair the World Detroit is launching a new program, Technology Buddy 101, to help seniors learn more about technology so they can stay connected to their families during this social distancing period.”

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CEO and President, Cindy Greenberg Featured on Panel – Look to the Helpers: Caring for Vulnerable Populations

CEO and President of Repair the World, Cindy Greenberg appeared on a panel with other leaders in the Jewish community and discussed how to help vulnerable populations during Pesach while maintaining social distancing.

Watch Here