BBYO hosts 'Voice Your Vote' parties
This story was published in Sun Sentinel
By Marvin Glassman
B'nai B'rith Youth Organization chapters in South Florida hosted two "Voice Your Vote" election night parties on Nov. 8 to emphasize the importance of being "game changers," as BBYO teens call themselves, who are teens who are committed to community service.
"Unlike other election parties tonight, we are not bound up with the results of the many candidates for office, but a focus on how we all can be game changers," said Gary Levin, vice president, Community Impact of BBYO.
The Broward County party took place at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie featuring actor Justin Baldoni, currently, starring as Rafael in the television series "Jane the Virgin," speaking about how his life changed when he became involved in community service.
The Miami-Dade party took place at the Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling alley in South Miami. Although there was no featured speaker, the Miami-Dade teens also discussed the importance of becoming "game changers" or involved in community service.
"I grew up being too self-absorbed in sports when I was a teen and that was a mistake," said Baldoni in sharing his life experiences with the estimated 300 Broward teens who attended the party.
"I did not focus on the greater good of helping people, thinking only of myself. When I became injured and could not play sports, then my attention was focused on a girl and doing all I can to please her and be with her," said Baldoni, who starred on the television soap opera programs "The Bold And The Beautiful" and "The Young And The Restless" prior to his current role in "Jane the Virgin."
"It then finally hit me as a young actor in my twenties that I needed to change what I considered important in life to make myself feel responsible. I went deep into my Baha'i Faith and my answers were to do good deeds and to go into service for others."
Baldoni described how he made a documentary film titled "My Last Days" focusing on teens and adults who were terminally ill and their stories of the positive things they had to offer in their lives.
"My life changed when I made the film, learning that life is not only about me. I ask you to not to neglect others and think and discuss how your life will have meaning after you are no longer here," concluded Baldoni to a standing ovation from the teens.
"Justin inspired me tonight. I sell bracelets to help people who have difficulties coping with epilepsy," said 16-year-old Jenne Korsten of Parkland, who in the past has suffered seizures prior to having medical procedures in coping with epilepsy.
The teens, who were also glued to watching the election night results on two large television screens, were also inspired to be "game changers" from both presidential candidates.
"Donald Trump is my inspiration. He has a wonderful plan to help the economy and I want to be as giving a person as he is," said Mike Rotstein. a 16-year-old student from Plantation.
"Hillary Clinton is my inspiration. She is the first woman to run for president. She inspires me to be whatever I want to be and sets the bar high by giving to others," said Rachel Nelson, 16, of Southwest Ranches.
The Davie and South Miami BBYO "Voice Your Vote" election night parties were part of a number of election night parties that the organization had across the country.
BBYO is a populist Jewish teen organization serving over 80,000 Jewish teens internationally. To learn more, go to www.bbyo.org.