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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

Naim Edwards of MSU-DPFLI: “It is critical that we all be reminded that the Earth has limits, we are stressing those limits, and we must restore our relationship with the Earth and each other.”

Repair the World Detroit is honored to partner with community leader Naim Edwards of MSU-Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation

 

By Naim Edwards Director of MSU-Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation

I am establishing an edible forest at the Michigan State University – Detroit Partnership for Food Learning and Innovation. The site is MSU’s first urban agriculture center, and this year we’re planting over 200 fruit and nut trees along with other perennial food crops. The edible forest will serve the community in a variety of ways. It will expose people and create access to an abundance of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops that are not common or affordable in grocery stores and mature plants will yield large volumes of nutrient dense, locally grown produce – increasing food security with crops full of healthy sugars, fats, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants. Our harvests will be donated to a local food pantry and integrated into our nutrition, cooking, food safety and food preservation classes and there will be opportunities to create value added products like jellies, butters, pies, dried fruits, sauces, etc. The sale of these products will support entrepreneurship and income opportunities and the forest will serve as a gathering space for community events and enhance biodiversity as well. Cumulatively, this effort will foster a more resilient and self-reliant community in Detroit.

I desire to engender a world where people connect with and revere all life. Establishing an edible forest requires proactive cultivation of a diversity of plants; the scale of which requires the cooperation of a community of people. Agriculture has always been a relationship between humans and the land. I am compelled to honor agricultural principles that our ancestors practiced. These principles guided them to care for the earth as a loved one, recognizing that the Earth provides for us. It is critical that we all be reminded that the Earth has limits, we are stressing those limits, and we must restore our relationship with the Earth and each other.

How to donate:

https://givingto.msu.edu/gift/?appeal=ONLINE

Under “Area to Support” search “MSU Detroit Partnership for Food Learning and Innovations”

 

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.

Ronna Davis-Moore of Zakiyah House: “I am a returning citizen, social justice is not just what I do, it is my mission to help give people second chances.”

We’re so grateful to work with Repair the World Pittsburgh Partner Organization Za’kiyah House

 

By Ronna Davis-Moore CEO and Founder at Zakiyah House Housing

Za’kiyah House started out as an Outreach Service, but we knew that just showing up in someone’s neighborhood annually would not be enough. We saw the connections between homelessness, Drug & Alcohol and Recidivism and wanted to work with these individuals on a more personal level. Out of this annual event Za’kiyah House Housing was born! We started with Richard’s Place, a community home, where men ages 18 on up who can physically take care of themselves, would want to live sober and rebuild their life. We now have two houses one for men and Donnelle’s Safe Haven for women, We have three outreach initiatives: Come Heal With Me, a support Group for parents who lost their children to gun violence, Recovery On Frankstown, and Recovery in MonValley, both outreach events where other agencies are invited to spread the message of hope by bringing their information to the table. I am a returning citizen, social justice is not just what I do, it is my mission to help give people second chances.

Get involved or donate to Za’Kiyah House today: https://www.zakiyahhouse.org/get-involved

 

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.

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.

Shanna Sabio of GrowHouseNYC: “We envision a world where Black people and their allies are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to think globally and act locally to build equitable societies.”


(Shanna pictured left with her son Warner pictured right)

We’re so grateful to work with such a dedicated leader, Shanna Sabio of GrowHouse NYC

 

By Shanna Sabio Co-Founder & Executive Director of GrowHouse NYC

GrowHouse International, Inc. (“GrowHouse” or GrowHouse NYC) was created to preserve and grow Black wealth. We define wealth as a multifaceted term that includes abundance of many kinds: talent, intellect, politics, culture, economics, built environment, and natural environment/land.  

We envision a world where Black people and their allies are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to think globally and act locally to build equitable societies. We support and promote emerging artists and techies of color through travel opportunities, artist residencies, exhibitions, arts-focused events, and very soon, collective ownership of real estate and businesses, building sustainable networks to help retain Black creatives in New York City. 

The idea for GrowHouse began when Warner Sabio, Jr. and roughly a dozen of his friends took over an unfinished duplex in his family’s Bedford Stuyvesant brownstone.  They spent months creating, sharing, and producing music, art, and video.  The space became a hub for young, underground visual artists, musicians, producers and dancers.  It became apparent that most, if not all, of these young men and women of color were in a state of transition − either in between homes, schools, or jobs.  Brimming with creativity, they needed a space that was private and felt like home where they could congregate and create. The brownstone presented a safe, no-judgment zone where they could gather, dream and experiment with art and technology. This space was the first GrowHouse.

Warner and the youth enlisted the help of his mother, Shanna Sabio, to create a more permanent framework for these activities that would allow them to raise funds to support both the physical space and the activities within. Shanna had worked in fashion as a project manager and producer for over a decade, with a focus on education. Illustrating how powerful intergenerational community can be, they began working together to envision GrowHouses that could be created in other rapidly gentrifying communities where people of African descent reside.

GrowHouse NYC has been active for four years, with steady and ongoing expansion. Since 2017, GrowHouse has produced 6 community art exhibits, crafted educational walking tours, and led travel programs to Cuba and Ghana engaging hundreds of Brooklynites each year.  Most recently, we’ve spearheaded the transition of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition to intentional Black leadership, laying the foundation for community engagement and the formation of a community land trust.

We are located in Brooklyn with relationships throughout the borough and city, as well as throughout the African Diaspora including Cuba, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Panama, and Colombia. Our vision for 2022 – 2023 is to empower Black and their allies to become developers of themselves and their communities through collective ownership and governance of key assets such as real estate, land, essential businesses, and cultural institutions. By the end of 2023, we want to have collective ownership of land/property in Black Brooklyn (Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, Weeksville, Brownsville, and Ocean Hill, Flatbush) to retain Black creatives in Brooklyn.

Donations to support BrowHouse NYC’s work can be made here: https://www.growhousenyc.org/contribute

Check out their IG: @growhousebk

 

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.

Jeremy Cronig, Hillel International: “Partnering with Repair has been a transformative experience for us and has opened a lot of doors”

Jeremy Cronig 

Program Manager – Civic Engagement and Social Impact

Hillel International

In addition to the long history of collaboration between Repair the World and Hillel International, Jeremy Cronig (he/him), now Hillel’s Civic Engagement and Social Impact Program Manager, says the partnership has helped Hillel navigate questions they faced about the future of the organization and service opportunities.  

 

“Even before COVID, we were thinking about the place of service in Hillel and the role service plays, and can play, in the lives of college students,” says Jeremy. “Repair has helped us answer those questions in a lot of ways, in partnership with us.” 


“We’ve learned that this generation of college students demands that the organizations they’re a part of do good in the world,” adds Jeremy.  “So we have an obligation and, if we’re going to stay relevant to this generation of college students, we have to be doing this work.”

While Hillel approaches all of its work from a mindset rooted in Judaism, Jeremy says that the partnership between Hillel and Repair has supported volunteers to strengthen their connection to their faith. In year one, 100 campus corps interns on 96 campuses recruited 4,843 peers in service, catalyzing 5,312 acts of service and learning and contributing 26,299 hours of service to partners. For example, at the University of Virginia, campus corps members Jackie (she/her) and Rose (she/her) established a 15-person Jewish Service Corps group to help with local service events, learn, and connect. 

Now called “Repair Campus Corps,” in year two, the new partnership cohort has 138 student interns globally building their own experiences in direct service and learning about Jewish values and issues of social justice, participating in trainings with Repair on how to show up in an authentic and supportive way, engaging in service through their Hillel, either on campus or in their community, and recruiting their peers to serve alongside them. They have all connected virtually through trainings and sub-groups based on issue areas, all grounded in Jewish values.  

“The most unique part of this work with Repair is that each campus can customize the Campus Corps program and make it work for them, Jeremy says. “Repair is very flexible in this regard.  We want our campuses to lead their service efforts—to have them plan it and implement it—and this program allows for that. Each campus can make it their own.”

“Survey results show that participants in programs offered in partnership with Repair feel more connected to their Judaism after engaging in service.” Knowing without a doubt that people feel more Jewishly connected when they serve really affirms what we try to accomplish as an organization,” says Jeremy. Repair’s external evaluation found that 91% of Repair campus corps members said the program allowed them to do good in the world through a Jewish lens.

Samantha (she/her), a Hillel campus corps member at Drexel University, shared about her experience: “This program connected me with my local community and with the Jewish community nationally. Volunteering and serving my community is now one of the foundational ways through which I express my Judaism.”

Partnering with Repair has led Hillel to encourage and provide service opportunity resources on a larger scale. Moreover, social impact is an integral part of Hillel’s strategic plans moving forward. “Partnering with Repair has been a transformative experience for us and has opened a lot of doors,” Jeremy concludes. “Focusing on service intentionally and through this partnership has been incredibly valuable for Hillel.” The partnership between Repair the World and Hillel International will continue to grow over the coming years through a recent investment for the Jewish Service Alliance to harness the power of service as a defining force for the American Jewish community from the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF). 

Lachelle Binion of Catapult Greater Pittsburgh: “We work to ensure that systematically disenfranchised communities can meaningfully achieve economic justice and lead dignified and equitable lives”

Repair the World Pittsburgh is proud to partner with local partner organization Catapult Greater Pittsburgh

By Lachelle Binion Director of Entrepreneurship Catapult Greater Pittsburgh

At Catapult Greater Pittsburgh we focus on providing emergency resource distribution, peer-to-peer support, wealth building, trauma-informed financial counseling, and policy advocacy.This work is important to us because we work to ensure that systematically disenfranchised communities can meaningfully achieve economic justice and lead dignified and equitable lives. In order to do that, we focus on putting people first and provide ways through our programming so that Black people in the city can have a path to homeownership, financial education, entrepreneurship, and access to having their basic needs fulfilled.  

Learn more about Catapult Greater Pittsburgh here OR Donate 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.

Brandi Haggins of Life Remodeled: “To have a place where families that look just like me can go to receive opportunities that they absolutely deserve and probably otherwise may not have access to, is truly amazing”

(Brandi is pictured middle with her parents)

We’re inspired by and so grateful to work with Life Remodeled/Durfee Innovation Society, a service partner of Repair the World Detroit. Life Remodeled focuses on the intentional and equitable revitalization of Detroit neighborhoods distinguished by their significant need and radical hope.

By Brandi Haggins Director of the Durfee Innovation Society

This is definitely not just a job for me, it’s a service that I have the pleasure of doing. I was born & raised in Detroit and I am a proud product of DPS schools. My father is a recovering drug addict and my mother is a survivor of severe “undiagnosed” depression so I’m no stranger to trials nor trauma. An “Opportunity Hub” such as the Durfee Innovation Society would have been perfect for my family. To have a place where families that look just like me can go to receive opportunities that they absolutely deserve and probably otherwise may not have access to, is truly amazing. I am blessed to be able to be a part of something that makes such a positive impact in our communities. I know I can’t change the fact that I did not have this growing up but I am blessed to be the Director of a place that provides deserved opportunities that I wish my family had when I was a child. The hard work that comes with this position is so very worth it!

You can donate by clicking the link below to support the amazing work that we do here at Life Remodeled!

https://liferemodeled.donorsecure.com/

 

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.

Bianca Cotton of UCAN: “When I think about our vision that ‘youth who have suffered trauma can be our future leaders,’ I was once one of those young people”

We’re so excited to highlight the work of Repair the World Chicago’s local partner UCAN.

 

By Bianca Cotton DEI Coordinator at UCAN

What compels me to the do the work I do at UCAN as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator serving youth and families and staff is seeking ways for all of us to learn about ourselves and others so we can live in a more equitable and just society where people’s needs are met and they can thrive. When I think about UCAN’s vision that ‘youth who have suffered trauma can be our future leaders,’ I was once one of those young people who had a plethora of mentors who supported me, challenged me, and exposed me to a variety of opportunities that I continue to build on to this day. The importance of having caring adults outside of your family is critical to your development as a young person and a young adult. 

Donations to Support UCAN’s work can be made here:  https://www.ucanchicago.org/donate/

To Volunteer: https://www.ucanchicago.org/get-involved/volunteer/

 

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.

David Roper of Green Haven: “We teach the children how to grow food and all the fresh produce that we grow, we give it back to the community for free of charge.”

We’re so excited to elevate the work of the Green Haven Project! Repair the World Miami is so grateful to partner with them to promote food justice across South Florida. Green Haven Project’s mission is to create community gardens and sustainable ecosystems in areas that are predominantly known as food deserts.

 

By David Roper Community Activist and President of The Green Haven Project

“What compelled me to do this type of service was seeing a problem in our community that needed a solution and so I created that solution by giving back organic food to Black and Brown people in communities where access to this fresh organic food is not always an option. At the end of the day, that’s the goal for us, to have more green spaces in Black and Brown neighborhoods everywhere. We teach the children how to grow food and all the fresh produce that we grow locally and we give it back to the community for free of charge. We also mentor and have a food pantry where people can come and collect free food if they need it. If people want to support our work at GreenHaven they can go to our website and donate or show up to volunteer with us. On Feb 19th at 12PM, we have a “Ribbon Cutting (Plant Day)” with Smile Trust Inc, building a garden together to feed more people at 4440 NW 27th Ave, 33142. Sign up by emailing [email protected]

Donations to support Green Haven Project’s work can be made via Venmo: @greenhavenproject-inc or by emailing [email protected]

 

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.