I sat down with the ReachOut! monkey the other day and asked him for his story.
“My story?” he asked. (I could already tell I was in for a ride.)
He looked me right in the eye and let out a loud cry, “Nants ingonyama bagithi ! Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama!“
I was entranced.
“When I was born, I was a celebrated addition to the circle of life. Animals from all over the savannah came to bow before me. My father told me that one day I’d be king of all that I could see- and let me tell you, I couldn’t WAIT to be king. But my jealous uncle had it out for me; he caused a stampede in a valley, which ultimately killed my father and sent me into exile. I scampered off and developed a simple trouble free philosophy. I spent days feasting on bugs and star gazing at night. It wasn’t for many years, and the love of my childhood friend, that I was coaxed to return and fight for what was mine.”
After he finished, we sat in silence for a moment as the story sank in. “Isn’t that actually the Lion King?”
He paused. He began again, “well, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”.
“So far so good,” I thought. “After all, this is a glow in the dark, screeching, flying monkey we’re talking about. Of COURSE he was brought here from a faraway galaxy to show how fun volunteering could be!”
I coaxed the monkey to continue. He cleared his throat and flipped his cape behind him with a flourish.
“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, I raced home….”
I interrupted again; this was clearly the start to Star Wars.
At this point, the story of the ReachOut! monkey remains mysterious. All I can tell you is that he, and about 100 of his buddies, showed up at the JCRC in September. They came late, as the Hurricane that didn’t blocked their path to Boston. They glow in the dark. They screech when dropped, jostled or looked at wrong. They have sling shot action. And, they wear capes that remind us that volunteering should be fun. Because really, that’s what it is all about.
As cycle four of ReachOut! is coming to a close, we welcome everyone to join us in our next ReachOut! endeavors. Between ourInterfaith Day of Service on December 11th, our Day of Voluncheer (AND HANUKKAH PARTY!) on December 25th and our Cycle Five Launch on February 2nd, you’re sure to run into a ReachOut! monkey in action.
Jordyn Rozensky is the Social Justice Coordinator for Young Adults at the JCRC. She received her MPP and Masters in Jewish Leadership from Brandeis University, as well as a BA in Religion and Biblical Literature from Smith College. She’s never missed an episode of Survivor and often has conversations with Monkey mascots. Jordyn is also a freelance photographer, her work can be found at www.writteninlight.net.