After graduating college, Ruth Blanc (she/her) was looking for meaningful service opportunities in her community and a chance to be immersed in the mission-driven nonprofit world. Ruth was raised in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami and attended Florida International University, so she was hoping to make an impact in the communities she called home, connecting to the value of taking action and learning, na’aseh v’nishma.
During her search, Ruth was scrolling through social media when she came across an advertisement for the Repair the World Service Corps. Ruth got in touch with the Miami team and applied for the fall 2022 cohort. “It was a great opportunity to not only do service but also earn a stipend for this work, which made serving my community an accessible option for me,” says Ruth. From Repair’s social media pages, she also saw the wide variety of issue areas that are impacted through programs and events, and saw it as an “invaluable opportunity to pursue social change.”
As a fall 2022 corps member, Ruth was placed with Exchange for Change, a Miami-based organization that offers education and communication skills by building courses for incarcerated students to amplify and bring their voices to the outside. Ruth worked with Exchange for Change virtually in their office as well as inside the prisons by compiling videos for their social media in order to “share the stories of those behind bars and highlight their humanity.” With Exchange for Change, she has been able to embody the Repair Jewish value of the preciousness of each human, kavod ha’briyot, by raising awareness and support around each unique incarcerated individual. Repair’s service corps became a family affair when her brother applied as well and was paired with Guitars Over Guns, an organization that aims to bring music and mentorship into kids’ lives.
For Ruth, one of the most impactful memories from her time as a corps member was sitting down with a group of incarcerated women. It was her first time visiting the prison, and the group toured the facility and met the women for two hours to hear about their life experiences. “Getting to sit and talk with them was pretty impactful. This singular experience as well as the entire impact of the immersive service opportunity inspired my passion for restorative justice. The human-to-human contact and dialogue we had taught me the value of exchanges with an incarcerated person because oftentimes they are not very visible or connected to the public by design.”
Through the experiences with Exchange for Change, Ruth saw how the Law Offices of the Public Defender of Miami supported the folks experiencing incarceration. As someone who is interested in a potential career in law, Ruth was able to take the experiences she had and better understand the career paths within the world of restorative justice.
Through Jewish service, Ruth has been able to bridge her passion for justice, tzedek, and service. Ruth says, “Justice is a personal obligation for me. College for me was mostly about research and writing essays, and it was hard to feel like any of it was making a tangible impact. With Repair, I can engage in direct service where I can make micro changes, and I’ve shifted my view to a more local perspective on change.” In addition to the hands-on experience, having the chance to meet regularly with her service corps cohort provided a collaborative space for her to learn, talk about the Jewish values playing out in service, and build communities within the city she loves.
Ruth continues to serve with Exchange for Change as a spring corps member, supporting them with blog posts highlighting the stories and outward impacts of folks experiencing incarceration and looks forward to finding a career path where she can incorporate restorative justice while staying connected to issue areas affecting Miami.
Ruth Blanc (she/her/hers) was born in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and her family immigrated to Miami when she was two. A graduate from the Florida International University Honors College with a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies and a first-generation citizen, she is often caught at the intersection of many social justice issues.
Currently, Ruth works as a k-12 substitute teacher for Miami Dade schools as well as serves as a Repair the World corps member in collaboration with local organizations where she develops meaningful service and educational opportunities. She hopes to work in law on social justice issues with the goal of being able to connect local realities to larger global implications.
Justice is a personal obligation for me. College for me was mostly about research and writing essays, and it was hard to feel like any of it was making a tangible impact. With Repair, I can engage in direct service where I can make micro changes, and I’ve shifted my view to a more local perspective on change.