BBYO Summer Blog
Impact Boston Welcome Video
Posted on 06/25/2011 @ 01:16 PM
IMPACT: Boston Welcome Video
Welcome to IMPACT: Boston from your Teen Coordinators, Claire Nuchtern & Ryan Skirboll
Jewish Organizing Initiative
Posted on 07/06/2010 @ 01:12 PM
On Monday, the teens spent an afternoon with the Jewish Organizing Initiative (JOI) and MassVOTE, an organization that works to register, educate and mobilize voters. Groups of participants spread out all over Boston with clipboards and signs to help with a voter registration drive. The teens enjoyed the opportunity to empower citizens to find their public voice through voting.
Representatives from MassVOTE and JOI returned to campus with us on Tuesday to debrief Monday's activities and present a workshop on community organizing. In addition to learning about the process of organizing, the participants re-enacted a successful organizing endeavor with YMORE, a collective youth organizing effort in Boston. Through mock meetings with a state representative, the teens were able to see how a group of students like themselves were able to secure more funding for youth jobs in the state budget.
For more information on JOI and their community organizing work, visit them on the web.
Making More Connections!
Posted on 07/06/2010 @ 01:09 PM
Connections are our way of creating a live conversation between the work we are doing and the values that guide that work. The connection sessions are an opportunity for the site groups to process their experiences on site as well as view it through the lens of Jewish texts.
This session designed for the teenagers to think about what makes an Agent of Change. What drives them to fight for the change? Does that manifest itself in different ways across their lives? To start the session and get us thinking about these issues, we looked at three stories from Moses' life and asked about the range of qualities and personalities he exhibited during his lifetime—rash, confused, unidentified, passionate, advocate. The list was quite extensive and it showed us that being an agent of change requires the ability to know how and when to act as well as the ability to learn from our experiences.
Moving beyond the text to discussing our sites, the group had a very fruitful conversation about what one gains and sacrifices in order to be an agent of change, on whatever scale. One of the strongest drivers for striving to enact change in society is having a passion for what you are trying to accomplish. The group considered that without passion, you would never accept a non-profit's lower salary nor have the determination to overcome the barriers to change. One conclusion was that you need to open your eyes to what is around you and be passionate about the issue you then try to tackle.
At Impact Boston, we have experienced different communities in need. Hopefully, by this point we have begun to make relationships with both these communities and the people in them. In this session, we explored the idea of how we choose where we engage in service work. Why are none of the sites at Impact: Boston specifically Jewish? Does it matter? As Jews, what is our responsibility to our fellow Jews? To the rest of the world? In Connections 5 we dealt with the tension of choosing a Jewish organization over a non-Jewish one, and looked at a few different Jewish texts that helped us shape our ideas about how we prioritize what is important to us in terms of community service. The discussion was incredibly fruitful and everyone left pondering some very important questions. Everyone is going home with new perspectives on how we prioritize our resources when it comes to doing service work.
In this session, participants began to think about wrapping up their Impact: Boston experience. They reflected on the commitments they made to themselves during the course of their site work and took a step back to see all of their site work and the difference they made in the lives of people they directly engaged with, as well as people’s lives who will benefit from their work in the future. At the same time, they considered the implications of a well known Rabbinic verse: “It is not your duty to complete the work, neither are you free to withdraw from it.” Through this verse, participants discussed where they felt they had left their work at sites incomplete, or how they thought they may have been able to make a greater contribution through more extensive training or a broader knowledge base about issues. They also used this time to share general feelings about their last day on site and any lingering thoughts or questions they still had about their experiences.
On Shabbat, the teens were asked to tell a story about something that surprised them on site. The intention of the activity was to bring their minds back to the moment and reflect on their experience. The room was filled with lots of laughter and many sobering thoughts. One of the most profound moments was when a teen asked how she is to wrestle with the guilt of privilege compared to the individuals she interacted with throughout the week. This comment sparked more concerns, which were addressed accordingly by the teens themselves: never forget who you are or where you've come from but most importantly, always remember the moments you've experienced here at Impact: Boston. Wrestling with the frustration of how one needs to fix the world while living in middle-class America can be taxing on the brain. It was more than clear by the end of the conversation that brains were churning and hearts were pumping because everyone in the room was committed to making a difference in their communities upon their arrival home.
Posted on 07/06/2010 @ 01:06 PM
On Friday, Impact: Boston held a Site Presentation Luncheon to eat and share presentations about the work they've been doing at their eight different sites. It was a wonderful opportunity for all the teens to speak to the other participants about the work they've been doing at their sites and how it has affected them. We were joined by liaisons from several of our Partner Sites, who praised the teens for their work. The entire Impact community dined, smiled, laughed, and talked about their great experiences. The room was filled with cheers and laughter, and tears were shed as we bid farewell to the site liaisons with whom we had bonded so deeply.
The site presentations began with the Waltham Police Department Kvutzah ('group') talking about taking initiative in working for a cause one feels is worthwhile and important. GWArc and WCI spoke about making a difference in the lives of the people they worked with at the sites. The Waltham Fields Community Farms Kvutzah shared the fulfilling feeling they felt when they saw a completely changed farm landscape, reflecting all of the hard work they had done.
Horizons for Homeless Children Kvutzah and City Mission Society Kvutzah taught everyone about the state of homelessness in Boston and about the dangers of making assumptions and labeling people. The Youth Force Kvutzah spoke about the importance of teen jobs and the change that can be made with persistence and teaching others about a cause. The Spare Change News Kvutzah documented their journey in Boston: beginning with panhandling on the streets, to talking about issues with a minister, to selling newspapers, to writing articles for a newspaper. The site liaisons thanked them for making an impact on their organizations and for doing such great, important work at all of their sites. Many teens were in tears as they spoke about the profound change their sites had on them and how they plan to incorporate what they've learned at Impact: Boston into their lives back at home.
Posted on 07/06/2010 @ 01:01 PM
Greater Waltham Arc (GWArc- People First)
"During my time at GWArc, I had the amazing opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the consumers and truly get to know who they are. From joking around with them to learning about serious topics, the bonds I’ve formed with the consumers at GWArc will be with me forever. One of my favorite parts of my experience was when one of the consumers expressed to me how much he appreciated our group being at the organization and spending time with him. I’ll never forget this experience and am so grateful I was able to be a part of such a wonderful cause."
Robyn Croft, Bellaire, TX
"GWArc has had a really huge impact on me and I will never forget this amazing experience...We learned about People First language and how we shouldn't just say mute or blind but instead say a person who can't speak or hear. This is really important because it is respectful. They are people too. They have emotions and they are aware of their surroundings."
Raphaela Kramer, Pittsfield, MA
"People First has really made me look at many things in different ways. Like how to treat a person with a mental disability. . .I now know that people like Stephen (my partner at the site) can be just a interesting as anyone else you know. This experience will change me for life."
Jeremy Samarel, Charlotte, NC
WCI (Work, Community, Independence)
This week at WCI, the teens were hard at work on their creative information boards. They painted one large canvas along with individuals in the Social Skills/Art Initiative program, and collaged a smaller bulletin board with the individuals in the higher-need Life Skills program. Additionally, we paid a visit to the office of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) to advocate for continued public funding to organizations like WCI. All of the teens were able to spend a few minutes with one of Senator Brown's aides, and they valued the opportunity to make their voices heard.
“In order to raise awareness and promote our campaign for youth jobs, we went out into the Dorchester area and knocked on people’s doors asking them to vote in the upcoming election for governor. We helped convince citizens to vote in the election and reminded them when the election takes place. In downtown Boston and Boston commons, we went around handing out flyers and informing people of our campaign. Since Scott Brown is against funding for youth jobs, we tried to get people to call his office and attend the rally to gain support. To end off our time with the Youth Force teens, we went down to City Hall and participated in a rally to try to convince the city council to include funding for youth jobs in their budget for the city. We also sat in on the city council’s final vote for Boston’s budget and listened to the issues being brought up. By us participating in the rally, we raised attention to show that we care about youth jobs and that our campaign is important.”
Sami Beatty, Centennial CO
“Through Youth Force we have helped make an impact in the Greater Boston area, we have learned skills to bring back home to make an impact on our own communities, and just as importantly, we have built relationships with the youth force teens, making an impact on ourselves. We went into Youth Force with assumptions and not really understanding the importance of their cause, but we learned they are teens just like us who trained us in community organizing. We learned about each others’ lives through heart-to-hearts and we connected with them on multiple levels. We contributed what we could to their campaign, but they have given us so much more. They showed us their community and how important it is to be involved and make changes to better it. We learned all about their campaign for youth jobs, but we learned on a personal level why it is so necessary. As much as we have gotten out of our experiences within the community, we have gotten so much more out of the friendships we have grown with each other.”
Rachel Beiser, Potomac, MD
Spare Change News
“We learned that ignorance about homelessness is just as big of an issue as homelessness itself."
Dylan Weil, Lyndhurst, OH
“Too many times do we pass people on our way to work or school who are begging for any amount of spare change without even stopping to say “good morning.” But who would have ever guessed that Mr. Important Businessman is one paycheck away from losing his house? Or that Ms. Dirty Dorris who wears ragged clothing every day is really much happier by purchasing clothes with her million dollar inheritance to donate to those less fortunate? A homeless person has no specific gender, race, or look. It is impossible to tell a person’s social or economic status by the clothes they wear or the people with whom they associate. Everything is, truly, not what it seems."
Shira Solomon, Cherry Hill, NJ
“All people should be respected and treated fairly without regard to one’s socioeconomic status. I’ve heard stories of kind people being kicked out of a restaurant or not allowed to use the restrooms because they were not the venue’s target clientele. Homeless people walk with a lot of weight on their shoulders figuratively and literally. . . Homeless people lead hard, brutal lives,and are often more likely to smile at another homeless person or offer some words of wisdom than the average businessman who I see disrespect or completely ignore other people. Where has the world’s compassion gone?”
Jaclyn Turner, Atlanta, GA
"There is no one look for homelessness. Homelessness is not as easy to spot as a neon t-shirt-- it camouflages itself differently on each of its victims. “
Claire Nuchtern, Houston, TX
“I no longer walk past homeless people and turn the other way out of fear, discomfort or content. Rather, I stop and spare some change for the less fortunate; but more importantly, I share a smile and some words of comfort. I now know that in addition to providing a good source of protein and nutrition, a package of peanut butter crackers for under two dollars at CVS can make a homeless man’s day.” Jori Epstein, Dallas, TX