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Archive for : volunteer

Seasons of Giving: Where to Volunteer This Christmas?

It may not be a Jewish holiday, but Christmas still has Jewish traditions. Like watching movies. And eating at Chinese restaurants. And volunteering! All around the country, thousands of Jews take advantage of the day off, and volunteer at soup kitchens, shelters, nursing homes, and community centers.

This year, join in the holiday action! Here are a few great ways to plug in and volunteer this Christmas.

Washington DC JCC Join 1,000 other volunteers for a day of service on Christmas Day. Activities include everything from wrapping and delivering gifts, to serving meals, to performing songs for hospital patients.

Jewish Muslim Day of Service, St. Louis In this uniquely awesome event on Christmas Day, Jews and Muslims come together on Christmas to serve others. They are also running a huge toiletry drive to serve people in need.

Pittsburgh Christmas Mitzvah Day The Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh is organizing a huge mitzvah day on Christmas. There will be opportunities to care for the sick, volunteer at an animal shelter, feed hungry people – and more.

Jewish Volunteer Connection, Baltimore Join hundreds of volunteers in making the holiday brighter for others by participating in this mitzvah day. Opportunities include making and delivering care packages, welcoming home troops serving abroad, volunteering at a local shelter.

JUF Mitzvah Mania, Chicago On Dec 25, visit elderly residents at the CJE SeniorLife Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation as part of JUF’s mitzvah mania event.

Tikun: Light up a Life, London If you live in London and want to make a difference during the Christmas season, check out Tikun’s great, multi-day program. Activities include everything from bringing chocolates to seniors, arts and crafts projects with the disabled, and tea runs for the homeless.

Know of another great volunteer opportunity for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Change a Life: Become a Tutor

August is “Back to School” month at Repair the World. Check back all month long for posts about inspiring education organizations, amazing educators, and ways to get your education on – whether you’re a student or not!

Hey college grads: remember how awesome it was to be a student? Okay, sure, there were overwhelming syllabuses, stressful tests, and an endless stream of papers to write. But still, college was great. When else in life do you get to dedicate four whole years to learning and expanding your horizons?

Truth is, once you get to the other side of graduation, finding time for meaningful learning and idea sharing can be difficult. But it’s not impossible! There is a way to recapture the magic of school: become a volunteer tutor! Through tutoring, you have the opportunity to share in someone else’s education journey, and help them along the way. Meanwhile, you will almost definitely learn yourself – as the saying goes, “students are the greatest teachers.”

So get back on the education wagon (minus the tests and papers), and become a tutor this fall! Here are some opportunities to get you started:

  • Reading Partners This literacy organization trains community volunteers to provide one-on-one reading tutoring to students in under-resourced schools across the country. They currently run programs in seven states and the District of Columbia – find out if there’s a program near you.
  • 826 Founded by author Dave Eggers, this amazing program empowers volunteer tutors to help students with writing skills at 8 different centers around the country. And they do it in just about the funnest way possible.
  • Math Nerds Good at math? Become an official math nerd, and join the ranks of other talented mathematicians who donate their time to help people with math-related quandries.
  • Volunteer Match Just type your location and the words “tutor” or “tutoring” into Volunteer Match’s service database to find a tutoring opportunity near you.

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.