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Archive for : Atlanta

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.”

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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.

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MLK Day Service Projects: How To Help In Atlanta

This article originally appeared in Patch News on January 15th, 2021. 

Repair the World — an organization that gathers volunteers to support local neighborhoods through partnerships with community-based organizations — is launching more than 600 coronavirus-safe volunteer opportunities for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, both in-person and virtually. There are seven Atlanta-area projects being offered for the holiday, ranging from delivering meals and clothing to planting trees.

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Virtual service opportunity: How you can stay safe this MLK Weekend

This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on January 12th, 2021.

“Despite our fears and uncertainty, we must continue to care for each other — especially as racism, inequity, poverty, and needless suffering persist,” Repair the World Atlanta‘s executive director Lily Brent said in a statement. “Repair is committed to our work in education and meaningful service together with our partners — and hope the community will join us to make sense of this moment in service and in learning.” 

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Even With New Relief Package, Georgia Could See Higher Levels Of Hunger For Years

This article originally appeared in WABE on December 23, 2020.

A recurring scene this year around the country has been lines. Cars snake through parking lots turned into COVID-19 testing sites. Shoppers wait outside stores with limited capacity. Families line up for help getting food on the table. Earlier this month, there was one of those lines at a shopping center on Buford Highway. “There’s always a line,” said Marco Palma, president of the non-profit organization Los Vecinos de Buford Highway. It’s one of the groups behind the food distribution event. “If we say we’re starting at 10, people start lining up at like 8:30 or 9.”

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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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