May 16th Was a Beautiful Day... to Volunteer!
Sunday May 16th marked the first time GesherCity organized the 12th annual Community Service Day for young adults, and it was the first year I have been involved as lead staffperson. It was such a fantastic experience being a part of the planning process.
This year we had over 150 people volunteering at 10 different sites—all in one day! I started the day at Newbridge on the Charles, a gorgeous new housing option for seniors through Hebrew Senior Life. This site was specifically for Birthright Israel alumni and our great group of volunteers brought pictures of their trips to Israel. We spent the morning speaking to some of the residents about our travels, and learning about their favorite travel spots—and the places they still want to travel to!
After Newbridge, I stopped over at Coleman House to see how our brunch with volunteers & residents was going. What a treat! There were about 40 residents and around 15 volunteers. I joined my colleague Ally Berenson at a table with her grandmother Betty and her friend Ruth. Betty and Ruth were spirited and talkative, and we had a blast joking around with them, eating some bagels, and hearing about their lives in and around Boston. Those women-- one in her 90s, though I won't say who -- had more energy than I do!
Sharing photos & stories over bagels-- what could be better?
Betty shared a story of how three women in her family were pregnant all at the same time-- an experience now repeated with 3 cousins in the family, including Ally. Ruth gushed about some young women she had met through JCRC's Reach Out! Community Service program, and even shared with us that she had invited two of those women over for dinner. I left Coleman House feeling great.
As much fun as I had at Coleman, I heard that the other sites were just as much fun. At Waltham Fields Community Farm our volunteers enjoyed the beautiful weather by transferring plants to the fields. At Vilna Shul our volunteers helped preserve Boston's Jewish history by onducted fascinating interviews with older Jewish residents who spoke about their experiences growing up in the formerly Jewish West End of Boston. A large group of volunteers acted as cheerleaders for walkers in this year's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer-- check out one of our volunteers demonstrating his spirit fingers with some walkers:
We also had volunteers at Perkins School for the Blind, The Shattuck Shelter, Pine Street Inn, Room to Grow, and the Greater Boston Food Bank.
After all of our volunteering, many of the participants gathered at Cask'n Flagon to celebrate our work together. We shared stories about our different sites and many people urged us to do more days like this. A whole group of people left the after-party with more information about JCRC's Reach Out! program, where they can visit one site for two months with the same cohort of people. I'm glad we could spread the word about this great way to continue our good work!
I couldn't be happier with my involvement in planning this day, and I'm so thankful to the whole Community Service Day Committee, particularly Roneat Rish and Elana Kieffer who chaired the committee. If you have a minute you should take a second to check out the rest of our photos from the event's many sites. Thanks again to everyone who came out for it!