Each year, J-Serve: The International Day of Jewish Youth Service mobilizes more than ten thousand Jewish teens worldwide around meaningful service programs. This year, we checked in with Molly Ball, a 16-year old junior at Los Gatos High School in California (and an active member of BBYO’s Central Region West) to find out how she celebrated J-Serve. Check out what she had to say.

What did your J-Serve group do this year?
We volunteered at food banks all over the Bay Area sorting cans and produce to be delivered to people who are homeless. Instead of doing one big event for the whole region, we split up shifts into two weeks and spread them all throughout the Bay Area to ensure that every member of our region and the greater community could participate and make an impact, no matter what their schedule. We volunteered from April 2- April 17 during the weekdays, and partnered with Second Harvest Food Banks in San Carlos and San Jose, the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, and the OFJCC in Palo Alto.

How were you involved in the planning and running of the day?
As the StandUP Chairperson for CRW, I helped to coordinate this event for my region along with Paloma Hamlett, a regional board member for CRW this past year. Together, we reached out to all of our partner food banks, set up times to volunteer, reached out to the community to involve as many people as possible, and promoted to our region to get members to sign up for shifts.

What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me as one of the coordinators was convincing members of CRW to take time out of their Spring Breaks to participate in J-Serve. I have always had a deep passion for community service and Tikkun Olam, and I was honored to have the opportunity to share that with my BBYO region. While I noticed that a lot of my peers have the same passion and hope for the future that I do, I also noticed that most of them did not feel the importance or necessity of acting on these feelings. This was incredibly frustrating for me, as I believe there is no better way to improve the world than direct service in the areas that need it, and this was an incredible opportunity. I also know that as youth and as the future of the Jewish people, now is the time for us to create the world that we want to live in, and that we want our children and grandchildren to live in. I hope that over the next year as CRW’s Regional Sh’licha I am able to help others realize their passions for making a difference, and inspire them to act on those passions directly.

What was the most inspiring part for you this year?
The most inspiring part for me about this whole experience was being able to talk to members and hear how excited and inspired they felt after the service they completed. I deeply believe that Central Region West is a powerful force, and watching my region harness and use their energy and passion to create positive change meant so much to me. I heard so many positive comments from younger BBGs and Alephs about how they felt so good after participating and how they cannot wait until next year, and I know that this is just the beginning to the impact that CRW can make on the Bay Area. Just as the theme of J-Serve said this year, Central Region West Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.

Find out more about J-Serve at their website or Facebook page.
(Pictured, Ball, right, with fellow regional leader, Oded Tzori.)