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Archive for : Atlanta

Passing the Torch, Until We Meet Again

I first met many of you in 2018-2019 when I was describing the vision for Repair the World Atlanta. I had over 300 stakeholder meetings that year, and gathered so much wisdom to feed into the  design of what would become Repair’s eighth community program. I felt like a dreamer, a salesman, or someone with an imaginary friend. Only now do I recognize that investing in the promise of something that doesn’t yet exist is also a kind of faith.

Together with the Atlanta community, we have built an organization fully equipped and deeply committed to service grounded in Jewish values. We have over 40 alumni of our immersive service programs who can lead their peers in deep learning and meaningful volunteerism. We have marshaled over 8000 volunteers in more than 15,000 acts of service and learning, providing over 24,000 hours to local nonprofits. We’ve partnered with more than 30 Jewish organizations. We’ve fostered connections and facilitated dialogue. We’ve taught Torah in fields and talked racial justice in synagogues. Through our invaluable partner Concrete Jungle, we helped stand up an emergency Grocery Delivery Program that fed 400 families for 18 months of the pandemic.

Four years later, the world may be even more in need of repair than when we started. The difference is that Repair now exists in Atlanta as a place to convene, a way to find meaningful work and the people to do it with. Atlanta Repair exists to meet urgent needs in our community, to kindle hope in each other, to support one another in living our Jewish values through consistent, persistent learning, and small acts of care that propel us toward justice and wholeness.

It has been my honor to serve with you all. And now it’s time for me to make way for up and coming Jewish young adult leaders. My last day at Repair the World is May 6. I will remain in Atlanta with my family and I look forward to continued relationships with so many of you who put your shoulders to the wheel with me these last four years.

We have a talented team to carry Repair into its next phase: Senior Program Associate Paige Godfrey, and rising second year Fellows Emma Burns and Palmer Rubin, soon to be joined by two incoming Fellows. We have a strong, wise and committed Advisory Board. We’re also hiring for a new City Director to shape Repair’s future here in Atlanta. I hope you’ll be part of that future too.

Thank you for your faith. Until we meet again,

Lily Brent

LaTonya Gates and Anthony Gates of PAWKids share what compels them to invest in and support their community

We’re proud to partner with Repair the World Atlanta partner organization PAWKids. PAWKids helps to meet immediate needs in the Grove Park community in Atlanta. From food distribution, to mental and medical healthcare, to rental assistance, the PAWKids works all year round to help the students in Grove Park heal, learn, and grow.

We spoke to community leaders at PAWKids to capture their experiences and ask them what compels them to do this work. LaTonya Gates, Founder & Executive Director shares “it feels liberating to be doing this work to support a predominantly Black community during Black History Month”. Anthony Gates, Director of Operations adds, “I was for years, in the exact same place as the people who we serve. For generations, my family had been in the same place as some of the people we serve. I was compelled simply by the assurance that I could do it, and supporting people who wanted to see it done! It’s been enough to get up everyday, and do what we do simply because I love people, and the opportunity to be great to them.” 

Donations to support PAWKids work can be made here

 

This #BlackHistoryMonth Repair the World is highlighting Black-led orgs, service partners who are advancing and centering Diversity Equity and Inclusion work and prioritizing BIPOC leadership in their orgs, and Black Community Leaders that we serve with across our communities. Our impact would not be possible without them. Our Jewish values of solidarity, achdoot, and strengthening each other, hitchazkut, remind us that nothing is possible without meaningful relationships. Our partners and colleagues are critical to our ability to understand and act thoughtfully. When we lift up, celebrate, and appreciate others, we ultimately work towards a stronger outcome.

Jessica Johnson of The Scholarship Academy: “The Scholarship Academy is committed to building healthier financial aid cultures in underserved communities”

Repair the World Atlanta is proud to partner with local partner organization The Scholarship Academy

 

By Jessica Johnson Executive Director at The Scholarship Academy 

The Scholarship Academy is committed to leveraging our unique scholarship preparatory curriculum, trainings and technology to build healthier financial aid cultures in underserved communities. We’re training counselors and corporate volunteers, designing and implementing financial aid immersion events such as Financial Aid Quiz Bowls, and providing students access to our customized scholarship platform, The Virtual Scholarship Center so that low-income and first-generation students are equipped with the tools to take ownership of their financial aid process. Our ultimate goal is to “make college funding a community affair.

Donations to support Scholarship Academy’s work can be here

Scholarship Academy is recruiting volunteers for their “FAFSA Is the Key” Campaign to help students in Title I schools complete the FAFSA, and more information can be found here.

 

This #BlackHistoryMonth Repair the World is highlighting Black-led orgs, service partners who are advancing and centering Diversity Equity and Inclusion work and prioritizing BIPOC leadership in their orgs, and Black Community Leaders that we serve with across our communities. Our impact would not be possible without them. Our Jewish values of solidarity, achdoot, and strengthening each other, hitchazkut, remind us that nothing is possible without meaningful relationships. Our partners and colleagues are critical to our ability to understand and act thoughtfully. When we lift up, celebrate, and appreciate others, we ultimately work towards a stronger outcome.

Will Sellers of Wholesome Wave Georgia: “What compels me to do this type of service is a desire to honor my family’s legacy”

This #BlackHistoryMonth Repair the World is highlighting Black-led orgs, service partners who are advancing and centering Diversity Equity and Inclusion work and prioritizing BIPOC leadership in their orgs, and Black Community Leaders that we serve with across our communities. Our impact would not be possible without them. Our Jewish values of solidarity, achdoot, and strengthening each other, hitchazkut, remind us that nothing is possible without meaningful relationships. Our partners and colleagues are critical to our ability to understand and act thoughtfully. When we lift up, celebrate, and appreciate others, we ultimately work towards a stronger outcome. We’re so excited to elevate the work of Wholesome Wave Georgia. Repair the World Atlanta is so grateful to partner with them. 

By Will Sellers Executive Director at Wholesome Wave Georgia

Wholesome Wave Georgia connects food-insecure families with fresh, healthy, locally grown food and health education through partnerships with local farms, farmers markets, and community partners. Our statewide footprint of over 80 community partners in almost 50 Georgia cities allow us unique insight into the challenges that families face. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our neighbors and do our part to support small, independent farmers. Our flagship program is the Georgia Fresh for Less program, which matches food stamp benefits — also known as SNAP benefits — at farmers markets, farm stands, and more, to help ensure that anyone who wants fresh, healthy, local food can afford it. We also offer SNAP, Medicaid, and other government benefits assistance through free screenings and renewals to our neighbors. Our programs support urban and rural farmers and contribute to our state’s local economy with more than $3.86 million contributed since 2009. Last year, Wholesome Wave Georgia accelerated our efforts to address food access and health disparities using our programs like the Georgia Fresh for Less program and the Georgia Food for Health program. Working with our community partners and our neighbors, we all have a role to play in creating the Georgia and America that we want to live in.

At Wholesome Wave Georgia, our work is important because our work increases access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food for families that are living near or at the margins of society. The need and the demand for fresh, healthy, locally grown food is greater than ever because of the pandemic. In 2020, our nonprofit supported over $187,200 in food nutrition incentives to increase access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food. Last year, in 2021, we supported over $275,200 in food nutrition incentives. By connecting our neighbors in need with fresh, healthy locally grown produce, our programs support the small, independent farmers growing locally grown produce, we benefit the local economy, help the environment, and improve healthcare outcomes within the state of Georgia.

What compels me to do this type of service is a desire to honor my family’s legacy. My grandmother was a school teacher in segregated, rural Georgia educating children in old barns disguised as schools. My grandfather drove a school bus taking “colored children” to these schools with used books, furnished with old desks but brimming with the state-of-the-art belief that tomorrow would be better than today. My work at Wholesome Wave Georgia allows me to be a force for good as I serve while completing my mission: to positively influence everyone that I come into contact with.

Donations to support Wholesome Wave Georgia’s work can be made at: https://www.wholesomewavegeorgia.org/candler-black-market

Repair the World Atlanta bolsters Atlanta nonprofits

This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on January 5th 2022

“We saw needs across our Atlanta community rise sharply during the pandemic–with more Atlanta residents facing increased food insecurity and poverty to worsening educational disparities,” said Lily Brent, the executive director of Repair the World Atlanta. “At the same time, young people were experiencing increased isolation, loneliness and mental and emotional health challenges due to social distancing.”

Read more here

Community Learning and Relationship Building

Joshua (he/him) found his place in service after discovering Repair the World Atlanta’s “farm crew,” a group of dedicated volunteers who have committed their time to work at a farm or garden in the Atlanta area. “I enjoy being hands-on and witnessing the work I’m doing make a difference in people’s lives,” he says. In addition to “farm crew,” Joshua tries to attend in-person volunteer events at least every other week or more.

In Atlanta, Repair has mobilized volunteers to create change across different communities—and this large-scale effort motivates Joshua to continue serving. “There was a community garden that we volunteered at recently and a neighbor drove by and asked how he could access space to build a garden. We were able to provide him this vital food access resource, increasing his ability to have fresh fruits and vegetables,” Joshua adds. “It’s powerful for me knowing that the things you do and the projects you work on are actually making a meaningful impact on the local community.”

The community connections developed through service inspire Joshua to serve more, both through Repair the World and other opportunities. Reflecting on service experience, Joshua says, “A fulfilling service opportunity definitely makes me want to volunteer more. The first time I ever volunteered in Atlanta, before Repair the World had a local presence, was at the local Jewish Family and Career Services’ mitzvah day. And I still volunteer there every year. Just a few weeks ago the Jewish Family and Career Services’ hosted mitzvah day again, and Repair led a service project for it. I had the opportunity to elevate my service experience by volunteering at the site for mitzvah day and taking part in the service opportunity Repair was leading” 

Through his ongoing service work, Joshua has learned a lot about community, relationship building, and how to address local needs, while leaning on the Jewish value of strengthening each other (Hitchazkut)to shape how he approaches volunteering. But what continues to surprise him the most is “how service takes different forms. Whether it’s organizing like text banking, whether you’re hands-on in local communities, or you’re learning about how you can talk to your elected officials and advocate for people, and your community —there are so many ways to serve and to make a difference.”  

Creative Approaches to the Sabbatical Year: Debt Relief, Gleaning, Sustainability

The following reflection was written by Lily Brent, Executive Director of Repair the World Atlanta.

In the second month of 5782 (Cheshvan), I’m still thinking about the shmita, or sabbatical year.  The Repair team, and our Atlanta Jewish community, are finding creative ways to interpret this ancient practice for our modern lives.

Deuteronomy 15:1-2 states, “Every seventh year you shall practice remission of debts… everyone who owns a debt, who has one in their hand, shall not press it against their neighbor nor their brother, for God has called for Shmita.” On September 29, Rabbi Samuel Kaye hosted us in the sukkah and taught us about The Temple’s transformative approach to living the spirit of shmita.

“For hundreds of thousands of people living in Atlanta, recovering from illness is not only a physical and spiritual burden – but an extreme financial one as well. Medical procedures cost unfathomable amounts of money for services, and insurance companies denying coverage seemingly at a whim, all while we are at our most vulnerable. Everyone has loved someone who has fallen ill, and most know the dread and shock of opening a medical bill to find out that they owe far more money than they expected; or could ever afford…As a Jewish community, The Temple is taking it upon ourselves to live by the ancient words of our sacred Torah and do our part to alleviate that suffering. We can do this because for everyone $1 we set aside for debt relief, RIP Medical Debt can forgive approximately $100 dollars.”

Atlanta Repair partnered with The Temple and generous donors–small and large–in our community to raise $70,000, which will relieve $7 million in medical debt. Atlantans who earn less than 2 times the federal poverty level, whose debts are 5 percent or more of their annual income, or whose medical debts are greater than their assets will soon be notified that their slate has been wiped clean. I am truly humbled to have been a part of The Temple’s inspired effort where Jewish practice is tangibly changing lives for the better.

Many of us are more familiar with Shmita’s agricultural aspect. Exodus 23:10 reads, “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it.” This will be Repair’s third year with a fellow supporting our partner Concrete Jungle. As you will see in the spotlight below, Concrete Jungle practices foraging and gleaning year round–“transforming overlooked and underutilized fruit trees and land into a healthy food source for communities in need.”

Finally, in honor of Shmita, I am deeming 5782 Atlanta Repair’s year of organizational sustainability. We have created, invented and expanded rapidly over the last three years–bringing Repair’s Fellowship and Service Corps to Atlanta. This year, I am setting the intention to sink our roots deeper, to cultivate and broaden our base of support, to deepen our learning and reflection, to get even better at what we do best, so that we can grow sustainably far into the future.

 

Our Fellows’ Insight on their Service Partners
Emma:
The people at both Rebecca’s Tent and Historic Westside Gardens have been my favorite part of my experience thus far. Their commitment, drive, and genuine passion for their missions is admirable and they inspire me to root down in my community. They’re also so much fun to be around and make coming to work such a pleasure.

Palmer: The first thing you notice working with both Concrete Jungle and Mind Bubble is the sheer level of care and compassion they bring to the table. They both work in vastly different spaces (food justice and education, respectively) but both are prioritizing the communities they work with above all else. It’s been an amazing start to the fellowship because of them.

Clara Sophia: I am so struck by the joy that the team at PAWkids brings to the work each day. The work can be really heavy, but Miss Latonya and her team choose to meet each person and day with a positive attitude. Even more than attitude, they have the courage to envision a different world. It is so wonderful to be back working alongside the PAWkids team.

Rest to Continue the Journey

The following reflection was written by Lily Brent, Executive Director of Repair the World Atlanta.

This Rosh Hashanah, I felt more ready than ever to turn over a new leaf, and yet a little bit stuck. After the “Summer of Freedom” turned into a “Summer of Disappointment,” I found myself asking whether this year would really be different in all the ways I had hoped. I’ve written often about not losing heart in the face of incremental progress and the many small, relentless, unglamourous acts it takes to make lasting change. In the era of COVID, all of that holds true, and the burden is greater, our steps heavier. COVID has turned out to be a marathon, not a sprint.

We are entering the shmita year–a “year of release.” (Our “In the News” column below explains shmita in greater detail and offers opportunities to participate). Gayanne Guerin of Congregation Bet Haverim shared a music video about shmita made by
Cantor Jessi Roemer. I found it so powerful just to watch other humans breathe. Just as there is deep value in the Jewish ritual of Shabbat, there is so much wisdom in practicing shmita as well. In order to continue our work, we have to rest. For some of us, rest is an act of revolution, something that has been systematically denied by slavery and systemic racism. Our many frontline workers have been keeping an impossible pace and somehow have to find the strength to continue.

What will you release this year? How will you rest? And how will you create the capacity for others to rest? In the spirit of shmita, how can our community together enact a rhythm so that all are cared for, no one feels scarcity, and yet rest is possible?

I’m reminded of our 2020-21 fellow Claire Ruben who reflected, “My service partner, Rebecca’s Tent, is run by a single full-time employee. I run the shelter’s career empowerment program, manage volunteers, coordinate donations, and perform outreach. Beyond direct service, I believe Repair’s greatest impact is how we help experienced community members operate at their fullest potential.”

In 2020-21, Repair the World Atlanta engaged 1,600+ participants in over 5000 acts of service and learning, contributing nearly 10,000 hours of service to our nonprofit partners. We supported Concrete Jungle’s launch of an emergency COVID-19 grocery delivery program. In connection with partners such as Congregation Bet Haverim and Jewish Career & Family Services, the program grew to provide crucial food assistance to 400+ families and 800+ individuals per week for the first 18 months of the pandemic. Last year, we launched a Service Corps program and engaged 36 corps members to serve with 15 organizations.

We pushed ourselves further than we ever thought possible. By volunteering and mobilizing others to volunteer, we also created space for others to rest. In 5782, I’m grateful to be in community with all of you. If you have the capacity, join us to support our community’s resilience. And when you need to, please rest.

The Masters in Development Practice within the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University Launches New Partnership with Repair the World to Support Repair the World Fellows and Alumni

For Immediate Release
May 3, 2021

Contact: Zack Block, Senior Director of Communities, Repair the World,  [email protected] & Chan Williams, Academic and Student Affairs Coordinator, Master’s in Development Practice, [email protected]   

The Masters in Development Practice within the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University Launches New Partnership with Repair the World to Support Repair the World Fellows and Alumni

Atlanta, GA — Repair the World, a National Jewish social justice service organization, and Emory University today announced a strategic partnership to support current fellows and alumni of Repair the World Communities fellowship who are accepted and enrolled full time to the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) at The James T. Laney School of Graduate studies.

“This partnership between Repair the World and the MDP program is a match made in heaven!  We share the same vision of forming talented young people to be effective change-makers in the world. Given their community engagement experience and commitment to social justice, fellows are an ideal fit for the MDP program and will thrive at Emory University. They will gain a diverse set of skills and insights that will enable them to move on to impactful and rewarding careers in the development and humanitarian field“ said Dr. Carla Roncoli, Director of the Emory MDP program.

The two year-long fellowship program connects Jewish young adults with local opportunities to make a meaningful difference in their community. Atlanta is one of six cities where the program currently operates. As a result of this partnership, Repair fellows and alumni will receive:

  • Waived application fee for MDP applicants
  • At least one Strategic Partner scholarship equal to at least 30% of tuition per academic year
  • Consideration for additional merit-based tuition scholarships that may be offered during the admission cycle. 

“We are excited about the opportunities this partnership provides for our fellows and alumni. Because of this partnership Repair the World fellows and fellow alumni will have access to a stellar and rigorous program that will strengthen their field based knowledge and practice of sustainable development that will prepare them for a continued commitment to serving and uplifting their community in a dynamic and meaningful way,” said Cindy Greenberg, CEO of Repair the World.

Emory’s MDP program is a two year course of study and practice that builds on an organic fusion of core scientific disciplines, programmatic skills, and experiential learning through globally- and locally-focused internships and field practicums. The program capitalizes on its partnership with a vast network of  leading development and humanitarian institutions and community-based organizations. These partners’ global reach will provide students with invaluable exposure to the way development practitioners operate in the real world and with a perspective on the different institutional contexts in which they will serve after completion of their degrees.

The James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies at Emory University is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in advancing academic excellence through innovative scholarship, research, teaching, and programming that prepares a diverse and inclusive student body for success as leaders and in service to the global good. 

Repair the World mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We believe service in support of social change is vital to a flourishing Jewish community and an inspired Jewish life. By 2030, Repair will inspire and catalyze one million acts of service towards repairing the world.

More information about Repair the World’s university partnerships can be found by visiting https://werepair.org/universitypartnerships/. If you’re looking to volunteer virtually, please check out our opportunities on our website – https://werepair.org/volunteer

More information about the Master’s in Development Practice can be found by visiting: https://www.emory.edu/mdp  You may also visit the James T. Laney Graduate School website: https://www.gs.emory.edu 

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MLK Day: Local Organizations Honor Dr. King Through Community Service

This video originally appeared on CW69 News at 10 on January 19th, 2021.

Several organizations held virtual events for the holiday, and others were out in the community. Open Hand Atlanta partnered with the Repair the World to deliver meals. Open Hand Atlanta is currently looking for drivers ages 21 and up to deliver meals Monday through Friday. DeKalb County held a short tribute and food distribution. The work continues for these organizations that serve communities every day. “We still have hungry children, we still have a horrible minimum wage,” Omilami said. They’re urging more people to volunteer and keep Dr. King’s legacy alive.

Watch Here