Archive for : volunteer

Give Mom a Gift that Gives Back This Mother’s Day

How would you describe your mom? Brilliant, beautiful, funny, caring and maybe – just maybe – a little bit “Jewish mother-y?” (The Jewish Daily Forward recently asked people to describe Jewish moms in 6 words, with hilarious results.) No matter how you describe your mom, she deserves to be celebrated!

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so now’s the time to let your mom know how much you appreciate everything she does – whether you’re near or far away. But while traditional gifts are lovely and thoughtful, show mom you care by giving gifts that give back:

  • Volunteer together. Spend the day working together at a local soup kitchen or women and children’s shelter, or sharing another volunteer activity. You’ll have a chance to bond, while making your community stronger.
  • Volunteer in her honor. Book mom a day at the spa and volunteer in her honor instead!
  • Make a donation to cause she loves. Does your mom have a favorite organization or charity? Or an issue she’s passionate about? Let her know you care by making a donation in her name. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, for example, is hosting a Mother’s Day campaign in honor of their 25th anniversary. Donate and save lives.
  • Give her the chance to donate. Give mom a GlobalGiving gift card, and let her personally pick the projects she wants to support.
  • Care for Mother Earth. Make a shared green commitment together, volunteer at a local park, plant a tree or your garden – show mom love by showing Mother Earth some love.
  • Give her something beautiful and sustainable. Buy your mom beautiful, handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and other gifts made sustainably and ethically by artisans around the globe.

How are you planning to celebrate your mom this Sunday? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld #mothersday.

The Winners of our National Volunteer Month Photo Contest!

This, April, we challenged you to put 5 minutes, a week, a year, or whatever you could to join us in celebrating National Volunteer Month – and we hope that you’re a little more inspired to continue volunteer activities not just in April, but all year round!

Here at Repair, we loved seeing the awesome stuff you were doing in your communities – and around the world in our National Volunteer Month Photo Contest, which really highlights just how much you could not only give of yourselves, but share.

We were inspired and impressed by your awesome volunteer stories (and photog abilities!) and you’re all winners in our book! Alas, we could only choose a few folks — those who really stood out by getting the word out about their great work. Check out some of the outstanding entries we received, followed by our official announcement of the Biggest Sharers! Drumroll please….

NVM Contest Conclusion

 

The Biggest Sharers!

SWAG BAG Grand Prize……………Francesca Garrett for her photo of Medic Mobile!

Tote Bag Winner…………… Gary Rozman

Tote Bag Winner…………… Mallory Brown

Tote Bag Winner……………Marci M.

Tote Bag Winner……………Jacob S.

Tote Bag Winner……………Michael H.

Tote Bag Winner……………Lisa Podell

Tote Bag Winner……………Erica M.

MANY thanks to ALL who participated! To learn more about the photos featured, visit our Photo Contest Facebook Album, or follow us on Twitter @repairtheworld.

…And good news: we think EVERY month should be national volunteer month! Continue to submit your photos ALL YEAR ROUND for a chance to win Repair swag and show off your service snapshots!

 

 

In 2012 Repair the World, the leading national nonprofit organization mobilizing Jewish volunteers in the U.S., released a research study, entitled “Serving a Complex Israel: A Report on Israel-based Immersive Jewish Service-Learning,” which highlighted the potential of Israel-based immersive Jewish Service-learning programs (IJSL) to serve as “a core strategy for Israel engagement, demonstrating significant positive gains in connection to Israel and an enhanced sense of connection to other Jews.” This year, Skilled Volunteers for Israel and theConservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem are partnering with Repair to transform the Volunteer and Study program into an immersive Jewish Service-learning program (IJSL). Volunteer & Study was launched in 2012 to enable participants to “live and learn Israel.”

Volunteer & Study (V&S) offers the opportunity to spend 3-6 weeks in the summer in Jerusalem learning at the Conservative Yeshiva and volunteering in a Jerusalem-based nonprofit organization. Participants, who range in age from 18 through pensioners, divide their time between formal learning focused on Hebrew language, Jewish text and values, and customized volunteer experiences. The 2013 program has added courses associated with service in the Jewish tradition and strengthened the connections between the program’s service and learning components.

“Serving a Complex Israel” suggests that respondents’ reasons for volunteering often resonated more strongly with universal values (such as “working to make the world a better place is my responsibility as a human being”) than they did with particularistic Jewish values or ideology (such as “I consider working to make the world a better place to be a Jewish act”).

The changes to V&S attempt to offer participants an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between their Jewish values and service. Four V&S courses – Torah in Action, Jewish Theology of Human Rights, Creating Inclusive Communities, and Engaging with Israel – together with reflection activities and a “Torah in Action” themed Shabbat are structured to deepen participants’ understanding of the Jewish tradition and values of service and Tikkun Olam.

V&S’s parallel emphasis on study and service will provide an experience that reinforces the relevance and centrality of service in Jewish tradition while providing the opportunity for participants to engage in service that speaks to their universalistic desire to contribute.

Skilled Volunteers for Israel’s process to identify real community needs for volunteer placements reflects Repair the World’s standards for authentic service. For the service portion of the program, V&S places participants in volunteer positions within Jerusalem-based organizations, and invites leaders from the non-profit sector to present to the Conservative Yeshiva community. Skilled Volunteers for Israel develops the volunteer positions through its network of relationships with Israeli non-profits and its expertise in developing customized volunteer engagements that match the interests and skills of the participants with the needs of the receiving organizations.

Examples of volunteer service done by the 2012 V&S cohort include working with refugee children in a summer kindergarten, facilitating strategic planning for an organization that specializes in inclusionary programming for children with special needs, contributing to the annual report for a social justice organization focused on monitoring fair employment practices, and abstracting interviews for an oral history archive dealing with World War II and holocaust survivors.

The program’s volunteer experience and contact with nonprofit leaders exposes participants to the complex issues and challenges of Israeli society. The “Serving a Complex Israel” study looked at the potential impact of such exposure to Israel’s challenges and problems and found that “in the context of service, such exposure did not weaken participants’ commitment to or interest in the country. On the contrary, connection to the country and its people seems to have been consistently intensified by exposure V&S 2012 participant Gabriella Meltzer, a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate interested in the African refugee issue in Israel volunteered at the Reform Movement’s Beit Shmuel preschool which cares for the children of foreign workers and African asylum seekers. Gabriella’s experience echoes this finding, saying that her “eyes were opened to the issues that children of refugees and their families face while in Israel.”

“Serving a Complex Israel” highlights a few key elements: The importance of Israel experiences within the array of immersive Jewish service-learning opportunities as having the potential to deepen participants’ understanding of and connection to Israel. IJSL programs can be “a significant Jewish experience” for participants, particularly those who come to the programs with less active engagement in Jewish life. It also describes the influence of Israel-based IJSL programs on participants’ service, Israel, and Jewish identities. The findings are most clear on the impact of these programs on participants’ service and Israel identities. Less consistent is the impact on participants’ Jewish practice and attitudes.

The V&S program is designed to maximize impact on participants’ Israel, service and Jewish identities leverages the diverse expertise of the three program partners. The Conservative Yeshiva is an inclusive and egalitarian Jewish learning environment with experience in teaching Jewish text. Skilled Volunteers for Israel specializes in authentic service through customized volunteer placements. Repair the World is an expert in Jewish Service-learning.

Volunteer & Study provides a rich, substantive experience for participants and just as important, a fun and meaningful experience in Israel.

For more information write [email protected] or visit conservativeyeshiva.org/volunteer-study-summer-program

Marla Gamoran is the Founder and Director of Skilled Volunteers for Israel.

Help Boston Recover

This morning, President Obama visited Boston to attend an interfaith service in honor of the people who were injured or killed during the bombing at the Boston Marathon. As of now, the details of the two bombings remain unclear. What is clear is how, as always happens in times of tragedy, the people of Boston and people across the country came together to help one another and show that love is stronger than fear. Here are some ways you can help now:

DONATE
One Fund Boston – Help the impacted families recover from injuries sustained during the marathon. This fund, set up by Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick, and Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino will help the families most affected.
Give Forward – Support one family that was seriously impacted by the bombings.

DO:
Run in Brooklyn for Boston Join other runners this Saturday for a solidarity run. There are similar runs going on across the country.
Register your family Register at the Red Cross’s Safe and Well listing, a central location for people to find out news about their loved ones after emergency events.

Do you know of other opportunities to help the victims and families impacted by the Boston marathon bombing? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld #Boston.

National Volunteer Month: Pro Bono Volunteering

Happy National Volunteer Month! All April long, Repair the World will be sharing stories, fun opportunities and tips to help you serve at all different levels and in all different ways. We’ll also highlight great causes to get involved with. Check out today’s feature, and tweet your service tips and stories to @repairtheworld #NVM.

All volunteering takes skill and energy. But beyond signing up to staff a soup kitchen for one evening, spending the afternoon at an animal shelter, or organizing a book drive, another type of service helps make a big difference by using our skills and talents: pro bono volunteering.

According to Idealist.org, pro bono volunteering refers to people “volunteering their professional skills to assist nonprofit organizations in creating or improving their business practices.” Examples of pro bono volunteering include a lawyer who advises on cases for a non-profit organization, free of charge, a doctor who volunteers abroad, or a social media whiz who helps a community group spread their message. More and more organizations are beginning to rely on pro bono help. With resources and budgets shrinking all the time, this free, skilled labor becomes increasingly necessary to help organizations meet their goals and change the world.

Sure it helps to have a specific degree or lots of professional experience in the field you’re offering to volunteer in, but almost anyone can be a pro bono volunteer. Idealist suggests considering the following questions:

What are you good at?
What comes easy for you?
What aspects of your professional life might be assets to an organization or community effort?
What personal or interpersonal talents do you have?

Once you have these questions figured out, you can find an organization that is looking for someone with exactly these skills. Put your expertise to use! Find a pro bono volunteering opportunity via Taproot, Idealist, or Catchafire.

Already a pro bono volunteer? Let us know how you serve by tweeting @repairtheworld #NationalVolunteerMonth.

This Valentine’s Day: Show Your Love with Service

Valentine’s Day is no doubt a sappy (and sometimes stressful!) Hallmark holiday. But we think it’s pretty great to have a day entirely devoted to spreading the love. Whether you happen to be head over heels this Valentine’s Day, or fixin’ to head out on the town (or stay in and watch a romcom) with friends – rock Valentine’s Day by showing your love…with service! Here are some easy, last-minute ideas:

  • Volunteer in someone’s honor. Let your loved one know that you spent an afternoon volunteering with them in mind. Better yet, invite them along and have even more fun while you do good.
  • Donate to your sweetheart’s favorite cause. Be it saving the rainforest, education reform, or food justice, make a donation to an organization (or two!) they respect. Not only will you help the world, but you will score extra points for knowing them and their passions.
  • Send your love to a teacher. Let your teacher (or mentor or parent) know you care and appreciate everything they do. Donate your unwanted books to an organization that will recycle or redistribute them, or resell them to raise money for important causes like American Book Drive or Housingworks bookstore.
  • Buy eco-friendly flowers. If you want to go the traditional route of sending roses or a colorful bouquet, make sure they are fair trade certified, or that some of the money goes to support good causes.
  • Take someone out to a green and ethical dinner. Have that romantic dinner for two (or fun night out with friends) at a restaurant that has been certified by the Green Restaurant Association, or has Uri L’Tzedek’s Tav Ha’Yosher seal, which means the restaurant treats its workers with dignity.

How are you letting your loved ones know you care this Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.

Sandy Relief Interview: Rami Matan Even-Esh, AKA: Kosha Dillz

beverlydillzVolunteer: Kosha Dillz

Who he is:  Israeli-American Jewish hip hop artist

Rami Matan Even-Esh, better known by his stage name Kosha Dillz, is an Israeli-American rapper who is no stranger to the East Coast. Although he spent time in both Israel and the U.S. while growing up, Kosha was born in Perth Amboy and has close ties to the Jersey community.

We’re very excited to have had the opportunity to speak with Kosha, and learn more about his experiences during and after Hurricane Sandy hit his hometown.

Why did you decide to volunteer after Sandy?

I was at my family’s home in Manasquan, NJ getting ready to head back to LA when the storm arrived on the East Coast. My town was hit pretty hard and we ended up without power for eleven days. It was a crazy experience because on the one hand it was weird to think that it should take a natural disaster to bring a community together, but on the other hand it was incredible to see the way everyone was so eager to help.

It felt very natural for me to volunteer in Jersey after the Hurricane hit. I felt a very personal connection to the destruction, not only because the storm literally hit close to home, but because I saw first hand the way many of my friends and neighbors were affected, and I knew I of course wanted to help in any way I could.

What did you do in the days following the storm?

I became very involved in the cleanup efforts. I found many different activities to participate in; one day I’d be working in demolition and gutting a ruined house, and the next I’d be making sandwiches and coffee for people in my neighborhood. I also started bringing my dog with me to volunteer. People loved petting him and taking pictures with him, it was nice to be able to bring a little cheer to a neighborhood that was going through something really rough. Cheer is important at a time like this.

Kosha Dillz Sandy Storify

Check out Kosha Dillz’ Sandy Storify here.

How did you respond to your fans that reached out to help?

I’m fortunate to have a great fan base that follows me on social media. It was amazing to be able to tweet, Facebook, or Instagram something about a particular area needing help, and then being able to see that tweet or post spread throughout my fan-base, to their friends, to friends of friends, to people not just in our neighborhood but from all over, all getting involved and offering time, services, or money to help.

Has your volunteer work had an impact on your life or music?

Going through Sandy and getting involved in the recovery efforts has definitely influenced both my life and music. I feel that this experience has really caused a lot of self-reflection. You start to think about what is most important to you, and in my case I know that giving has always been a priority.

Back when the earthquake hit Haiti for example, we did a tour to raise money for relief efforts, and that was one of my favorite experiences. I also recently did a show in Brooklyn; we passed around a bucket for Sandy donations, and people gave what they could, every little bit helps.

Anytime I can use my music to give back definitely represents some of the most fulfilling times in my life; I feel the best when I have the chance to make a meaningful impact, and this most recent experience with the storm has re-sparked that desire within me.

What do you most want to share about your experience?

My immediate takeaway was that getting involved in both donating money and time were equally meaningful. It’s great to be able to get involved in the physical work (making sandwiches, cleaning out houses) and I loved doing it, but I think it’s also important to note that giving monetary donations, or getting involved in other ways in the future is important as well. People will continue to need many things after the initial response has died down, so I think it’s important to follow Facebook and Twitter feeds of smaller groups, like the Occupy movement, for ways to stay updated and involved.

I’d also really like to emphasize that the point of volunteering is not to be recognized or thanked, but to help in a meaningful way. That is what I tried to do and what I hope to encourage others to continue to do.

___

A huge thanks to Kosha Dillz for taking the time to speak with us about his experiences.

Be sure to check out his songs, and consider donating to his Kickstarter to support the upcoming documentary “Kosha Dillz is Everywhere.” 

 

Repair Interview: Annie Harkavy on Volunteering with Young Hospital Patients in Israel

For more than 40 years, the WUJS Israel program has empowered post-college age men and women to live, experience, and volunteer in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Participants grow personally and professionally, while making a difference in their jobs and communities.

Over those past four decades, more than 8,000 graduates have participated in WUJS. Current WUJS participant, Annie Harkavy, took the time to talk with Repair the World about her volunteer work with children at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, and how service really runs in her family.

Can you tell me more about your background with service?
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and our JCC was a big part of our life. My parents were also really involved with the Jewish Federation. I first got involved with volunteering and group philanthropy around my bat mitzvah. Then in college at Indiana University I was in a Jewish sorority that did a lot of work with Sharsheret, and also involved in community service in a local hospital. We would go hang out with the kids at the hospital, and throughout the year we’d hold events and invite the kids to come to campus.

How did you find the WUJS program?
My aunt actually did it 30 years ago, so that’s how I first learned about it! My mom lives in Israel now and wanted me to come do something here after college. I knew I wanted to do hands-on work and get experience and stay in the field of medicine, which I studied in college. I also knew I wanted to work with kids. This program seemed to have all of those components.

What do you do there?
I work in the children’s emergency room, and basically do anything they tell me to do! I work on the patient charts, assist when nurses are drawing blood and spend time with the kids, comforting them when they’re sad. They laugh at my Hebrew and try to teach me.

How did you get so passionate about working with children?
I have always loved helping kids. Growing up I was a camp counselor and baby sat. With kids, and especially working in a hospital, every day is different and you really feel like you’re making a tangible difference. It’s hard work, but really satisfying.

Tell me more about the experience at WUJS – what’s it like?
It brings together a group of post college-age students to come and experience living in Israel. We live together an apartment complex in South Tel Aviv, and all work in different places. We have a travel day every week, and there are many different lectures, events, and leadership trainings that we’re able to take advantage of. Even though I am not getting paid for my work this year at the hospital, I don’t think about it that way. This is my chance to make a difference. I’m hoping to stick with volunteering here once a week, even when this year is over.