BBYO Summer Blog
Impact: Boston Video
Posted on 06/30/2010 @ 11:38 AM
Each week we will be creating a video for you to get a glimpse into the participants' experiences at Impact: Boston. Check out this week's video to learn about the project sites, the work the participants are doing, and what Impact: Boston is all about.
Shabbat at Impact: Boston
Posted on 06/30/2010 @ 11:06 AM
We had the wonderful opportunity to share our first Impact: Boston Shabbat together.
We all went into Shabbat keeping in mind that we were trying to create a comfortable environment for everyone's religious practices; we focused on sharing and learning from how others choose to celebrate Shabbat while teaching our friends about our own practices.
The participants were in charge of planning the different parts of Shabbat:
- Setting the atmosphere - Friday night services - Saturday morning services - Havdallah
Our atmosphere committee used the theme "the Lion King" to set a tone that recognizes the interconnectedness of life. For Friday evening and Saturday morning services, our teens planned and led traditional and non-traditional service option. Havdallah's theme was sweetness and recognizing diversity in the world, which gave us all great perspective about the coming week.
Over the 25 hour period, we learned from each other, bonded with each other and got some much needed relaxation after a week of very hard physical and/or emotional work.
We are already looking forward to and planning our next (and last) Shabbat together.
Posted on 06/30/2010 @ 10:59 AM
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 focused on the idea of holiness. Participants were asked if they thought their work here at Impact Boston was holy work, and in what ways they can help others and learn from the people they will meet at their site. Many participants noted that they see service as an opportunity to both give and receive -- they dedicate their time to their site, but they recognize that the individuals they are meeting are going to be teaching them a lot as well.
During Connections 2, participants explored various "Visions of a Just Society." After perusing several Jewish texts, they were able to think about the gap between the just society prescribed by the Torah and the realities of society. They examined the ways in which non-profits aim to close this gap and most importantly and began to reflect on their initial experiences at their Partner Sites.
Connections 3 was entitled "Honoring the Dignity of Other People," and participants discussed how learning people's stories affirms their dignity and humanity and raises service to a higher level. They explored their relationships with individuals in varying socioeconomic classes through a personal storytelling exercise, and committed to gathering stories from different kinds of people on and off the Brandeis campus during the rest of Impact: Boston.
Getting to Know the Sites
Posted on 06/30/2010 @ 10:40 AM
Greater Waltham Arc (GWArc)
GWArc's mission is to serve people with developmental disabilities and their families, utilizing a person-centered, whole life planning approach. They provide quality, flexible programs and services that maximize independence, foster inclusion and build community connections. GWArc's programs are based upon self-determination, sound teaching practices and the latest technology. Participants are focusing on "People First Language," a campaign in which they are working with GWArc's consumers to learn about they like to be addressed in order to maximize the respect for them in society.
Work, Community, Independence (WCI)
WCI (Work, Community, Independence) provides housing, day support, and employment to individuals with a wide range of developmental disabilities. We'll be working alongside the individuals in three of the day support programs (Life Skills, Deaf Supports, and Social Supports/Art Initiative) to create information boards for display at WCI. Participants will interview individuals and staff, and paint/add sensory elements to a large cork board in order to describe "Who We Are and What We Do" at WCI. For more information on WCI, visit their website.
Waltham Fields Community Farms By Lara Schewitz, Charlotte, NC
Waltham Fields mission statement is: "Waltham Fields Community Farm (WFCF) promotes local agriculture through growing and distribution practices that are socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable. We forge relationships between people, their food supply, and the land from which it grows."
Here at Impact Boston 2010, we are working in the educational garden, performing maintenance work that will enhance the experience of the wide variety of program participants that visit the farm. We are learning more about the many components of nonprofit organizations and gaining tools that we can bring home to our communities. For more information about the farm, visit them on the web.
Waltham Police Department
Participants at this site are working with Officer June Conway of the Waltham Police Department in Community Policing. In addition to understanding how police work keeps our neighborhoods safe, we are working with Officer Conway to build a positive community in three of Waltham's housing projects. We will be organizing a summer fun day for the children at one of the sites and creating an art project at another. Along the way, we will learn about low-income housing and how government policies translate into real life for the developments' residents.
At Youth Force, we will be engaging with teens from Dorchester, MA (a neighborhood of Boston) in a series of community organizing trainings. The Youth Force teens have been working for 2 years on a campaign trying to garner support for youth jobs in the Greater Boston Area. We will be learning the skills of community organizing, along with doing some direct service. We will be helping the Youth Force teens proclaim to the Boston area how important youth jobs are. On Wednesday, we will be participating in a rally held by Youth Force. We are so excited about this adventure. For more information about Youth Force, visit their website.
City Mission Society of Boston
Our teens are working with the City Mission Society of Boston, whose mission is "Uniting Communities-- Transforming Individuals." CMS is the oldest multi-service agency in New England. They have been addressing the educational, economic and social needs of impoverished area residents since 1816. CMS provides opportunities for congregations and communities to engage in social action through three main programs: Homeless Prevention, Youth Peace Empowerment and Faith & Community Engagement. Our participants have been helping out in a number of ways, including cleaning up spaces that are used for homeless awareness programming and participating in peace empowerment training. For more information on CMS, visit them on the web
Horizons for Homeless Children
Horizons seeks to improve the lives of homeless children and their families. They provide homeless children with nurturing, stimulation and opportunities for early education and play that all children need to learn and grow in healthy ways. To improve the lives of the children they serve over the long-term, they connect their parents with the tools they need to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency. They provide leadership in advocating for homeless children and their families through leveraging and sharing their expertise with others and advocating with policy makers and the public.
As part of the learning experience, our teens at Horizons are learning about the issue of homelessness with a focus on homeless children. They are learning about how work has to be done just to provide a safe environment where children of 0-6yrs old can still develop accordingly: everything from fundraising to advocacy and recruitment of volunteers to cleaning toys. Already, many have been quite vocal about how little we, as a nation, know about the seriousness of the issue and how unstable funding can be in these current times. For more information on Horizons, visit their website.
Spare Change News
Spare Change News is a newspaper dedicated to helping the homeless help themselves. Since 1992, Spare Change News has been a forum for individuals experiencing homelessness to express themselves, obtain skills training in writing, and work towards becoming financially stable by selling newspapers. Participants at this site will be meeting with one of the co-founders of the paper, and spend some time in areas of Boston selling papers and breaking down assumptions of the homeless. Participants will also spend some time writing their own thoughts and articles for the paper. For more information on Spare Change News, visit them on the web.