Every volunteer is different. They bring different skills and strengths to their service work, and glean different lessons and values from their experiences. In the hopes of capturing that diversity of experience, Repair the World interviewed two volunteers, Adam Gindea and Asher Mechanic, who both work with Lev Leytzan (Heart of the Clown).
Since 2004, Lev Leytzan: The Compassionate Clown Alley has trained volunteer teen clowns to bring smiles, laughter and hope to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices. Founder Neal Goldberg, Ph.D. brought together his passion for helping people (he’s a child, adolescent and adult psychologist) and his love of performing (he’s a professionally-trained clown) with an organization that simultaneously helps the patients it touches, and empowers teens to make a difference. Below the jump, Adam and Asher share how their experiences working with Lev Leytzan have shaped and inspired them.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Lev Leytzan?
AG: I feel so lucky and blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization. From the months of training, to the frequent rounds in local hospitals and medical facilities, to our trips abroad, volunteering with Lev Leytzan has exposed me to the importance and power of laughter, kindness, and compassion. Being exposed to people facing such pain and hardships and having the opportunity to be able to provide them with moments of joy and happiness are not only amazing experiences to be a part of, but provide me with memories, pictures, and feelings that I carry with me every day.
AM: If I had to pick one favorite thing about Lev Leytzan it would be their multi facetted approach to bringing joy through clowning. Lev Leytzan is an organization that has meticulously planned a phenomenal medical clown training program. The program involves over 60 hours of training from professional clowns and doctors. Students learn new ways to express themselves, giving them various creative and productive outlets. During and after training, therapeutic clowns go clowning at a variety of hospitals both in their communities and around the world, thus bringing happiness to patients. The positive affect that Lev Leytzan has on the lives of both patients and volunteers is truly wonderful.
How have your experiences with Lev Leytzan shaped the way you think about service/volunteering?
AG: Throughout my life I have been involved in various community service and volunteering organizations and projects, but my experiences with Lev Leytzan are without a doubt the most memorable, empowering, and emotional. Lev Leytzan invests in their volunteers and extensively trains them to perfect their skills and talents necessary therapeutic clowning. Being involved in Lev Leytzan has shown me that even service and volunteer activities require extensive training, dedication, and study.
AM: Lev Leytzan is a perfect example of how there is always a personally fulfilling way to volunteer your time. Even within the subsection of volunteer clowning, Lev Leytzan provides many volunteer opportunities. Besides for their primary work of visiting the sick, Lev Leytzan writes, casts, and performs safety shows throughout New York. For those who prefer to reach out to underserved communities around the world, Lev Leytzan has missions throughout the United States, Europe and Israel. There are so many ways people can help others and it is my firm belief that we are all capable of finding a volunteer opportunity that suites our individual personalities and needs.
Lev Leytzan is selling fundraising greeting cards this Purim in support of their local and international medical clowning initiatives. Support their work by purchasing a pack of fun and colorful cards here.