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Archive for : Repair the World

Change the Chances: Become a Mentor

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It’s time for you and me to have an intervention.

You? Oh, no, it’s not for you! I’m pretty sure you’re doing ok.

Sure, you’re spending 50% of your salary on rent, but let’s put it in perspective. Chances are you went to a good, or pretty good school, and that you had at least one of the following: an SAT tutor, a life-changing teacher, a coach that really cared. Those people, they were mentors. And I need you to become one, too.

Mentoring is a proven intervention that will help give every kid the chances that you had. Students with mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to begin drug use[1] and half as likely to skip school.[2] They are more accountable, and have higher self-esteem. [3] They send in college applications, and improve their grades. They’re more likely to make it to college and through college. But they need someone who has their back.

Can you become that person? Take advantage of National Mentoring Month by learning more about how your involvement in a child’s life can change their chances. Repair the World has made it easy!

We’ve partnered with iMentor , an incredible organization that builds mentoring relationships that empower students in low-income communities in New York City to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions. Students work with their mentors one-on-one, in-person and online to develop strong personal relationships, nurture a college aspiration, navigate the college application process, and build critical skills that lead to college success. iMentor supports both student and mentor with a college success curriculum, and support from their rock star staff. Best of all, they have the track record that proves you’ll be making an impact:  74% of seniors in their College Transition Program enrolled in college in 2011.

You can make a positive difference in the life of a high school student by volunteering with iMentor. Sign up to attend a February info session or sign up to become an iMentor today .

Not in NYC? We’ve got you covered. Email [email protected] to get connected to a local partner in your area.

 


[1] 1 Tierney, J.P., Grossman, J.B., and Resch, N.L. Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters . Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures (1995)

[2] McLearn, K.T., Colasanto, D., Schoen, C., & Shapiro, M.Y. (1998). Mentoring matters: A national study of adults mentoring young people. In J.B. Grossman (Ed.), Contemporary issues in mentoring (pp. 66-83). Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.

[3] McLearn, K.T., Colasanto, D., Schoen, C., & Shapiro, M.Y.

Meet Laura Kassen!

Meet Laura Kassen, our Education Campaign Fellow and AVODAH Corps Member! We asked Laura a few questions about her decision to join AVODAH, and her work with Repair: 

Why did you decide to serve with AVODAH this year?

In December 2011, during the fall semester of my senior year in college, I was forced to face “reality.” After constantly being asked various forms of the question “What are you doing next year?” I decided to bulk down and actually figure it out…or at least come up with something I could say in response. At one point I was so overwhelmed with the process that my go-to answer became making up various professions and telling something different to each person who asked. Many people may actually think that I am becoming an astronaut or a professional fortune-cookie writer—I apologize that neither one of these is true, but in my opinion I am doing something way more exciting.

I knew that I wanted to work in some capacity at a non-profit organization, particularly in the Jewish world. I also have always had a strong interest in education and education reform. While perusing Idealist.org, I stumbled upon all these job opportunities that sounded amazing. Then I noticed that they all had something in common—they were all AVODAH placement organizations.

I spent time doing research on AVODAH’s website, talking to Corps members and participating in informational conference calls. AVODAH seemed like it would be a great opportunity to do meaningful work after college. I was excited about the possibility of working at a highly effective non-profit, while living in a communal environment, and engaging in learning opportunities that would help me become an agent for social change. I thought AVODAH would be a great way for me to learn from my peers and help me gain an understanding of what I’d like to do in the future. So in January 2012 I applied to AVODAH, and in May I was thrilled to learn that my placement organization would be Repair the World!

What excited you about serving at Repair the World?

I was super excited (and still am!) about becoming a part of an organization whose mission is something I really value. I have always been proud of my Judaism and interested in service, so it was thrilling to find an organization that seeks to truly connect these two important facets of my life and make them a defining aspect of American Jewish life. I am excited to spread the word about Repair the World and help the organization flourish.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to learning more about structure, and what goes on “behind the scenes” at a non-profit organization. I feel like Repair the World is a great place to do this because it is growing rapidly in terms of outreach, resources and education. I am also looking forward to applying what I learn through AVODAH to my work at Repair the World, whether it be by hearing from my fellow Corps members or learning something during our educational programming.

What would you say to college seniors who might be thinking about doing a year of service post-graduation?

I say if you are able to commit to a year of service, I would definitely encourage you to go for it. A year of service has really put things into perspective for me. I have had the opportunity to learn so much about myself, about social justice, and a wide-spectrum of unique opinions and ideas. And if you cannot dedicate a whole year to doing service, try to become involved in other capacities. Volunteer with your friends on weekends, read up on social inequalities, and attend events with topics related to social justice. You may find something that really grabs your attention!

How do you see this year informing your future career plans?

I think both my experience at Repair the World and AVODAH will help me figure out what I would like to do in my professional career. I hope that I will be fortunate enough to find something that combines all of my interests, and even if I don’t I would like to find out other opportunities to stay involved. I am very excited to grow professionally, expand my interests, and do my part to help with Repair the World’s mission.

Laura Kassen is from Westport, Connecticut. She attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she was an American Studies major and History minor.

 

#GivingTuesday

Last week we gave thanks, this week let’s give back!

From the genius minds of Henry Timms, deputy executive director of the 92nd Street Y, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, this newly launched movement aims to transform the way people think about this consumer-driven season.

“We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Why shouldn’t there be a day for giving back?” asks Timms.

As of today, more than 2,000 charities, for-profit businesses, community groups, religious groups, and schools have committed to launch their own volunteer and charity-centric projects as part of the #GivingTuesday movement. With the launch off to a strong start, the campaign aspires to become part of our national holiday season lexicon, joining the likes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as an annual staple to look forward to.

 So what can YOU do to get involved?

You can also work with us! Donate to Repair the World this #GivingTuesday, and every dollar will be matched! Read more about Repair’s fundraiser here.

There are no rules when it comes to who, what or how you give – you’re encouraged to think creatively based on your own unique interests and skills. Are you designing a new flier for your favorite charity? Volunteering with your youth group?

Tell us what us what you’re doing @RepairTheWorld or connect with us on Facebook!

Shalom TV Daily News 11/6/12

J-Serve and Repair the World Team Up to Offer Education Grants

Are you involved with a great J-Serve project that is helping to address education challenges (like literacy rates, math deficiency, and mentorship) in your community? Or do you have an awesome project idea in mind? Now’s your chance to get your idea off the ground: J-Serve (The International Day of Jewish Youth Service) and Repair the World have teamed up to offer micro-grants for creative, volunteer-focused programs supporting education and child development.

The micro-grants will range from $500-$1000 and fund J-Serve projects across the country that help to solve the problem of education inequality. (Preference will be given to programs in New York, Detroit, Baltimore and San Francisco, but all are encouraged to apply.) Sample programs might include:

  • Starting a book drive and then creating flashcards based on key vocabulary for the books that were received, packing them together as a kit for local elementary school students
  • Gathering college alumni from your local BBYO chapter to give tours of their college campus to local youth. Follow up by hosting a college prep workshop for the community!
  • Rallying your friends and community to start a peer-to-peer mentoring program.
  • Working with a local preschool to create playground graphics on the blacktop to teach letters, numbers, colors, etc. to their students.

Applications will be accepted each month on the last day of the month (i.e. Nov 30, Dec 31, Jan 31 and Feb 28), 2013. So get excited, get some friends and volunteers together, and apply! Click here to download the application. And for more information, contact campaigns[@]www.werepair.org.

FINDING A HOUSE OF OUR OWN

Everyone has that one place where they feel happiest and most comfortable.

For me, it is an old car factory on Holden Street, which is now used as the city of Detroit’s recycling center, Recycle Here! I stand there every Saturday morning welcoming recyclers, answering questions and collecting zip codes.

But it was in front of my favorite space that I found the perfect place to live.

I spent three months this summer scouring Detroit’s real estate listings with three soon-to-be housemates. We were looking for a place to call home for not just ourselves, but the new Repair the World-Moishe House, where for the next year we will work to build a community for young Jews by creating a home-base for service and volunteerism — and of course socializing.

Finding a house is never easy. This is the ninth time I’ve tried, and it had unique challenges. For one, none of us were living in the same city when we found out we had been selected to live in the Repair the World-Moishe House. (Over the course of our search, I believe the four of us were in the same country at the same time for a total of four days.) And in our separate corners, each was incredibly busy on our own with jobs that let us do a little good in this world.

I run Green Living Science, a nonprofit that works to help mobilize action and education around environmental issues in Detroit.

Besides trying to communicate over different time zones, we found out that it isn’t that easy to find a house to rent in Detroit with four bedrooms, plenty of space for Shabbat dinners, and a surrounding community with the infrastructure ready to tap into for planning volunteer and service projects.

Thankfully, a little serendipity stepped in.

Green Living Science works with the nonprofit Recycle Here!, the city of Detroit and Detroit Public School’s Office of Science to bring recycling services to some 20 local schools for the first time as well as in-class and after school lessons that teach students about recycling and environmentally sound waste disposal.

That means that I have a close association with about 2,000 students, teachers and community leaders — and the great advantage of talking to more than 500 different Detroit residents every Saturday.

It was on one of these Saturdays in front of Recycle Here! that I started telling a recycler named Tony about the same thing I talked to everyone about at the time: my search for the perfect house.

It turned out that Tony was looking to rent the other side of his duplex in Woodbridge, a historic district full of beautiful mansions and large front porches perfect for meeting neighbors.

It was the first neighborhood I lived in when I first moved to Detroit in 2007 and nostalgia set in as I started thinking about all the things I loved about the neighborhood, including the diversity, the character of the houses, the library next to Scripps Park, the backyard gardens, the history and the neighborhood pancake breakfast.

But nostalgia gave way to practical thought as my mind started racing about all the different organizations in and near Woodbridge with which we could partner, and about all of community projects in which we could be a part.

Without even seeing it, I knew the perfect house had found us.

By the time you read this, I and my three new friends and housemates (I believe you met Devon on this page last month) will have lived in the house for a little more than a month.

The first couple of weeks spent setting up the house have been a little less magical than the story that brought us to its door. We’re working out logistics, scheduling, deciding who does what chore, who cleans which room and trying to figure out who gets to share what food.

(I’ve been named de-facto house treasurer, responsible for bills and rent.)

By the time you read this next dispatch, we’ll have more fun stories to report, as now we’re also in the midst of planning our first few volunteer projects and social engagements.

So far, our welcome to Woodbridge has been amazing. A number of organizations have already offered to host Shabbat dinner in our home.

We’ll start saying yes as soon as we work out the details — and are actively creating our October calendar of events now.

In October, our real work will begin. We’ll start to partner with local nonprofits on volunteer projects. The first will be with Arts and Scraps, an organization that assembles learning kits for kids. So check our website soon for more details.

In the meantime, we’re going to find time between our day/evening/weekend jobs scavenging to find enough furniture to fill the house, brainstorming volunteer projects, and sometimes even finding time to enjoy the massive garden and koi pond in the backyard of our perfect service house. 

Rachel Klegon runs Green Living Science and is a resident of the new Repair the World-Moishe House in the Woodbridge area in Detroit.

A Story in the Tapestry: Revamping the Concept of Repairing the World

This post was written by Analucia Lopezvoredo, and originally published in the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation blog on July 26th, 2012.

Analucia LopezrevoredoAnalucia Lopezrevoredo is a resident of the Moishe House in Portland, Oregon. Moishe House is an international organization providing meaningful Jewish experiences to young adults in their twenties through home-based communities. Moishe House recently partnered with Repair the World to host a retreat on Jewish service-learning. Repair the World is an organization that is working to build a movement to make service a defining element of American Jewish life, learning and leadership. This post is a reflection on that retreat.

The term “tikkun olam” has become synonymous with social justice and social action. As Jews, our goal is to fulfill the idea of “repairing the world” by serving communities in need. Though this notion is far from new (dating back to classical rabbinic literature in Lurianic kabbalah), many Jews still find themselves unable to truly connect with this concept. As residents of Moishe House, our goal is to facilitate the fulfillment of “tikkun olam” on a micro and macro level for young Jewish adults in our respective communities. With the help of both Moishe House International and Repair the World, residents of various Houses came together a few weeks ago to critically discuss ways to effectively create service-learning programs.

As someone who feels strongly connected to my local and global community, I’ve never had to convince myself to do service in my free time. It has always been a priority of mine, and something that has helped define who I am. It was no surprise that the majority of people in attendance were similarly committed to the pursuit of social justice and structural change. Hailing from nine different states, retreat participants brought with them diverse experiences, which made for a dynamic weekend. It did not take long to realize, however, that we’ve all struggled to get members of our communities to engage in our service programs. Service, we realized, does not mean the same thing to everyone, and to many, our House events are primarily social or cultural. People come to our programs to meet new folks, reconnect with old friends, and celebrate cultural events and holidays. While these factors help explain why service-learning events have not been amongst our most popular programs in the past, the truth is that service is often a difficult activity in which to engage.

When asked, many people would probably agree that service is something they’d like to do more often. And yet, it calls for people to step out of their comfort zone, give up precious free time and often work with people they don’t know. For some introverts (and even some extroverts), this can be awkward and has the potential to tarnish one’s perception of their role in taking action. As Moishe House residents, we understand how important it is to connect with others. People continue to come to our events because they feel welcomed and feel as if they belong to a community. With this in mind, I realized that in order to revamp our service programs we must first revamp how they are perceived.

For the most part, our Shabbat dinner events are the most popular programs we host. This is partially because they are laid back, but also because people strive to feel and stay connected with others. Giving service-learning events a social twist might be what we need in order to attract our ever-enthusiastic communities to our “tikkun olam” events. If people start to see all of our events as opportunities for community building, then the need to constantly recruit service-minded individuals may become obsolete. We can make Sunday afternoons of service a tradition and the “learning” component of the programs can be combined with a post-service discussion over a delicious meal or drinks. Whatever we choose to do, there is only room for our service programming to grow.

The sessions at the retreat were fantastic. Presenters like Marilyn Sneiderman, the Executive Director of AVODAH, and Will Berkovitz, Senior Vice President of Repair the World, challenged us to think critically about service projects that inspired us, as well as those that turned us away. As a group we shared our fears, goals and triumphs, and most importantly built a strong support network that will continue to be a part of our organization’s success.  Our natural environment was crucial in our takeaway.

Though excruciatingly hot for most of us, our free time was largely spent exploring the grounds of the enchanting Pearlstone Retreat Center. A night hike concluded our time at the Center, and the unforgettable East Coast storm on June 29th that knocked down trees and power lines reminded us all of how small we were in the hands of the almighty. In the end, the retreat was grand in content but (sadly) short in time. We parted ways at Baltimore Harbor, but not before culminating the weekend by volunteering our time at Living Classrooms, a non-profit educational organization that “inspires young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as ‘living classrooms.’” Our time with Living Classrooms sealed our bond with a service-learning experience. Though it was undoubtedly difficult to say goodbye to my new friends, I smiled knowing that soon enough we would meet again with stories of success.