At the start of the pandemic, Rafael found himself thinking intensely about how to get his neighbors and community through an incredibly difficult reality. “It’s pretty easy to be wrapped up in your own life, but something I truly value is realizing that your time should also be dedicated to helping others. That can take shape in many different ways,” said Rafael. For Rafael, who lives in Denver,  joining the Service Corps was a way to support his community in significant ways and be connected to the Jewish community in a way he hadn’t been in a long time. 

There were several moments of being a Corps Member that solidified Rafael’s Jewish value of strengthening members of his community but most recently, Rafael was placed to serve at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic which was launched to more equitably disseminate the vaccine to marginalized populations. “Communities at higher risk or with an increased level of skepticism were able to come and get vaccinated in a setting that was more comfortable for them,” said Rafael. “Many of the patients were Spanish speaking or didn’t speak much English and I served as their interpreter and helped them book appointments for the second dose of the vaccine.”  

While serving at the vaccine site, Rafael met a 63 year old man who had never been vaccinated before. Like Rafael, he was born in Mexico and they immediately connected through their common nationality. He shared with Rafael that this was his first time getting vaccinated and he was motivated to get the shot because he had lost someone close to him to COVID-19. “I could see the struggle and the pain he was in and I believe having someone there he felt comfortable sharing his story with made a huge difference.” Rafael worked with several people at the site who were nervous or scared for many reasons, including being reported for being undocumented or general fear and misunderstanding surrounding the vaccine. “My job was to also reassure them. We needed to make sure they came back for their second shot.” One woman he scheduled broke down in tears. “She expressed to me how relieved she was because now she would be able to see her family for the first time in over a year.”

Since volunteering at the vaccine site, Rafael has dedicated his time as a Corps Member towards pursuing food justice in Colorado through his placement with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG). “I’ve seen the positive impact of people addressing food insecurity by building their own urban gardens and ensuring that nutritious food gets to the hands of those who need it the most,” said Rafael.  

Rafael continues to strengthen his connection to the Jewish community and his values through the Service Corps. “My work as a Corps Member has opened my eyes to many things that define what a community is. I’ve not only become closer to my community members but I’ve also learned how powerful service is in making a positive impact in the lives of everyone here in Denver.”

Rafael Levy is originally from Mexico City and moved to the U.S. seven years ago. He is currently a student at CU Denver and manages a coffee shop. He is passionate about serving his community and is eager to use his time to learn and uplift those around him.