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Hurricane Aftermath Teaches Milwaukee Teen

Read this story in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

In June, I traveled to a BBYO Teen Issue Summit in Staten Island, New York.

BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild: A Teen Issue Summit on the Power of Service was focused on helping to rebuild the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Almost 100 teenagers traveled to New York City from all over the world to help repair the island.

The first night we arrived, we heard several stories from people who lived through the storm. Those stories really made me realize how much I take things for granted.

One of the speakers, Patricia Dresch, told us how she lost not only her house, but also her family in the storm. The pain she went through to tell us the story and re-live those horrible moments was extremely moving.

This made me, and everyone else at the summit, want to devote ourselves to making the most out of the next couple days. We were split up into groups and the next morning we began our service.

When we were dropped in the heart of Staten Island, the feeling sank in that we were standing where there was once several feet of water. Seeing the destruction that remained from the hurricane almost a year later really opened my eyes.

We began our service by shoveling mulch into bags to be sent to the location of some of the worst destruction. Then we began to build a greenhouse to help harvest fresh produce to feed those affected.

As I was working, Patricia’s story replayed in the back of my mind. I wasn’t working to learn about the effects the storm had or to fix the neighborhood up. I was working to help lessen the hurt that the storm caused the victims. I was working for Patricia and all the other people who lost part of themselves during the hurricane.

As we were building the greenhouse, I noticed how quickly it was coming along. We started from nothing and then, in just two days under the blazing sun, we had cleared all the mulch and built not only the foundation, but the walls to a brand new greenhouse. We, as strangers, came together in such a short time and accomplished more than we could imagine.

I had never done anything like this before. I never realized how much destruction took place because of the hurricane.

The stories disappeared from the news and the aftermath went unrecognized for the most part. I did not realize how much destruction originally took place and how much still needed to be done.

BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild changed the way I think and the actions that I make. It made me realize that the things that I take for granted can be gone in a second.

I realized that people can be hurting and no one may notice. They may be too proud to ask for help.

There is so much that I learned about myself at the Summit that I want to bring back here, to my hometown and my BBYO chapter.

I came out of that trip with more than I ever thought. I came out with friends who made me realize who I am and who I want to be and I learned how important life is.

Milwaukee BBYO member Leslie Zukrow participated in the BBYO Stand Up and Rebuild: A Teen Issue Summit on the Power of Service June 25-28.

Milwaukee selected to host BBYO event

BBYO, Inc., has selected Milwaukee to be the host city for IMPACT: Milwaukee, Aug. 4-6.

IMPACT: Milwaukee is a three-day intensive experience of service, advocacy and Jewish values sponsored by the BBYO Panim Institute.

According to an email from Chuck Marcus, senior program director of the BBYO Keystone Mountain Region, 21 Jewish high school students, who are teen leaders in their respective communities, will be attending.

The participants “will perform hands-on service in the Milwaukee area at Stepping Stone Farms, learn about different ways to have an effect on their community and how to apply their leadership skills to affect lasting change,” Marcus wrote.

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