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IMPACT: DC at University of Maryland Blog

Training future leaders on activism, creating social change and building community through exciting cultural activities.

We’re so excited to be able to share all of the wonderful news, tidbits and fun that go on here every summer with even more people. Check back frequently to see the most recent updates!


Last Day of Impact DC 2015

Posted on 07/23/2015 @ 12:20 AM

As our final day of Impact: DC is coming to a close, I find myself sitting here in a room of teens who have become a new family to me. Starting Impact, I was excited for the experience of lobbying and the chance to explore D.C., but I was unsure about the Alephs and BBGs that I would share these experiences with. It's always scary coming into a new experience, like Impact. You don't know what the people will be like or if everyone will get along. I am lucky enough to say that at Impact I was surrounded by a group of fun loving, yet passionate individuals. Impact: D.C. has been a truly eye opening, and amazing experience. The lessons I've learned, from how wasteful I've been in the past with food, to how the homeless should be treated, are ones that I will carry with me for years to come. Even more than that, I have learned to research and advocate on behalf of an issue. I have learned that no matter my age, I can make a difference in the world if I truly want to. I could not be more thankful to have been a part of Impact: D.C. 2015.

-Talia Yaari, Michigan Region

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Lobby Day at Impact DC

Posted on 07/21/2015 @ 11:40 PM

I'm Rachel Maltz from Los Angeles, and I'm representing Pacific Western Region #44 on this program. Today, Impact: DC went to Capitol Hill to lobby congressmen in support of different causes. My service group, A Wider Circle, lobbied Ohio's Congressman Tim Ryan about family poverty. We focused on the Ban the Box campaign, to remove the stigma surrounding previously incarcerated people and to give them more job opportunities.

Our second issue was lobbying Congressman Ryan on behalf of LGBT+ rights, especially for homeless teens. This was a great experience for everyone, and helped us learn that advocacy can be done from any level. Afterwards, we had free time in Georgetown to explore the city. I took a tour of George Washington University with friends, and looked around the area. We came back to the University of Maryland for dinner at Hillel before a pool party tonight. We had a great day of advocacy and exploring the city.

-Rachel Maltz, Pacific Western Region

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Service Superstars

Posted on 07/20/2015 @ 11:30 PM

I went to Bread for the City for my service site. What we do at Bread for the City is sort through produce for food quality and place produce in bags for people in need. It is fun working in the food pantry because I am with my friends in my circle group. Some of the products we put in bags were potatoes, cherries and other nonperishable items. Today we worked on sorting cabbage and shucked corn.

My reaction to this service site changed the way I look at food. I am fortunate to have enough food on my plate everyday while some people out there struggle and don’t have enough food for a day. I am happy that I can help the community and others around me. I really have enjoyed my time here at Impact DC and have made friends that I will keep for a life time.

Impact DC is a great program. Tomorrow we are going to Capitol Hill to lobby for congress which will be a lot of fun and educational. We only have a few more days left but, I am making every day count and will come back and bring everything I learned home to my chapter.

-Michelle Massarik, Northern Region East-NOVA COUNCIL

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Take Me Out to the Impact Ball Game

Posted on 07/19/2015 @ 11:30 PM

"Today we all went to China Town in DC and to a Nationals Baseball game. Overall I had a great time hanging out with all the amazing friends I've made at Impact DC. It was really hot outside and I felt kind of gross but I know that I will remember this day for a long time. In the evening after everyone had washed off the copious amounts of sweat off their bodies, we all had a very nice dinner and circle time. Hanging out with my circle, Martha's Table is definitely a highlight of my day because every time we talk we all have meaningful conversations and become closer as a group. I don't think I've ever felt so close to a group of people and I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity. Impact DC has definitely made an impact on my life and I hope I can make an impact with my remaining days."

-Nacia Goldberg, North Florida Region

"I had an awesome time today having free time with my Impact friends in DC. We walked around China town and went into cute little shops. We then went to a Nationals versus Dodgers baseball game, although I don't follow sports teams I had so much fun! I watched the game, caught some sun, and drank a ton of water. I'm excited for the upcoming days! I'm excited for lobby day; I can't wait to talk about homelessness on the legislative side, and preventing people from becoming homeless in addition to helping them once they become homeless. I am looking forward to our limud session tomorrow and engaging in great conversations. I love my Impact friends and can't wait to hang out with them outside of Impact. We are already starting to plan a reunion! :)"

-Emma Parish, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region

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The Impact of Shabbat

Posted on 07/18/2015 @ 11:40 PM

“The committees did a great job running Shabbat services; I was intrigued by how the Shabbat committees ran their services and programs. It was the best Shabbat I have experienced in a long time. I led an Impact talk on Domestic Violence and taught my peers about the rising issue. It was challenging to facilitate but I felt fulfilled with taking myself out of my comfort zone. It was the best Shabbat I’ve experienced in BBYO ever.”

–Zach Gaines, Gold Coast Region

“I found it very interesting that even though we are from different parts of the country, we have so many similarities in Jewish customs. Although we may sing to slightly different rhythms tonight at Havdallah we sang in harmony. Spending Shabbat with my new Impact best friends left me feeling rested and excited for the days to come. I only have a few days of Impact left and I can’t wait to make every day count. This is more of an opinion than a fact, but everyone is loving their time at Impact.”

-Emma Parish, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region; North

“Wow what an amazing experience it has been for me to be at Impact. When I signed up as a last minute plan I was anxious as what to expect. Well, now I 'm here choosing to write and tell you on day seven I feel so comfortable. From meeting everyone at the airport to team building activities I can be myself and call everyone here apart of my BBYO family.”

-Lauren Kreda, Great Midwest Region

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Feeling Grateful Before Shabbat

Posted on 07/17/2015 @ 05:30 PM

Today was my birthday and I could not have asked for a better one. Today started off on a great note (for me at least) as my circle group was dorm of the day and was in charge of waking everyone up in the morning; which we did to the loud music of Macklemore. However, the highlight of my day was not the wake up activities or all the birthday wishes, it was seeing my 12 Pre-K children at my Bright Beginnings service sight which is a free day care for homeless children in DC. The second I walked into the room I was greeted with smiles and hugs which continued throughout the whole day. We had snack time, read books, played tag on the playground, and even took a nap. If you saw these beautiful kids interact and play, you would forget how these kids may not have a bed to sleep in tonight.

It isn’t until I step on the bus to go back to Hillel that I think about this, and it makes me appreciate every single privilege that I have been given throughout my now 17 years of existence. I am so lucky to have parents that can give me a bed to sleep in at night and 3 steady meals a day. The fact that these kids do not have those same privileges has kept me up late these past couple of nights. These happy, smiling, and innocent kids deserve much better. I doubt my preschoolers will remember me in 15 years, but I will definitely remember them.

-Drew Grossman, Great Midwest Region

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Making an Impact at Generation Progress National Summit

Posted on 07/17/2015 @ 12:00 AM

Today I learned the importance that my generation has to the United States and world politics. Through amazing speakers, I learned more than I could have ever in a class room setting. I learned about all different types of people and organizations. I began to feel a major connection with my fellow impacters, especially the girls that I went to the "It's On Us" program to end sexual assault with. When at this program, we discussed and listened to all different stories of people who have been affected by sexual assault . I became far more aware of the world around me, and the dangers that women face on college campuses everyday. Finally we got to close the day with an amazing and humbling speech given by Vice President Joe Biden.

-Julia Saltzman, The Ohio Northern Region

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Service Sites, Monuments, Memories- Oh My!

Posted on 07/16/2015 @ 12:00 AM

My name is Rachel Maltz, and I'm representing Pacific Western Region #44 (Los Angeles) at Impact: DC. Today, we had a day full of service and touring. After breakfast, we split into our group service assignments around the Washington DC area. My group headed to A Wider Circle, which is dedicated to providing families with donated furniture and other home supplies. This organization helps to make an impact in the city by only distributing new or gently used items, in order to maintain dignity for the recipients. After sorting donations, we had an Israeli dance program at the Hillel in University of Maryland.

Tonight, we took a tour of monuments in downtown DC. First, we watched the sun go down over the Jefferson Memorial. After the sun had set, we continued with a walking night tour. Standing at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial while overlooking the Washington Monument, we felt a sense of community as we took pictures with all of our friends. We walked together towards the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which was the powerful end to our tour. Today was a fun day of giving back to the community, having fun, and appreciating all of the sights in this beautiful city. We are all excited to welcome in Shabbat soon, and to attend the Generation Progress Summit tomorrow.

-Rachel Maltz, Pacific Western Region

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Finding Hope at the Holocaust Museum

Posted on 07/15/2015 @ 12:00 AM

“Today we visited the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum in downtown DC. The permanent exhibits that we visited stirred emotions inside and made me feel closer to my heritage. We also took a ride on the metro, which was fun, plus we heard from s speaker from the ADL who talked about anti-Semitism and civil rights.” -Jason Richman, Gold Coast Region

“Today was an intense day and it was quite clear by the looks on everyone’s faces that something changed about the group as we walked into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was something I had not seen before; a new side of everyone. My favorite part of the day was the speaker from ADL because he spoke about topics that are very relevant and important to be up to date about.” -Margot Siegel, North Texas Oklahoma Region

“Today we went to the Holocaust Museum and even though I have already been, I was emotional towards the end. I feel that it’s important to learn as much as we can because we are the last generation that will ever hear from survivors. The metro is a fast paced area and it is always keeping me on my toes. I feel today I learned more about Judaism and myself.” -Jonas Berkowitch, Lonestar Region

“Today I visited the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was a heavy trip and we all learned allot. I thought it was particularly upsetting that there were youth groups run by the Nazi party to get kids involved.” -Josh Berenzweig, Northern Region East

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McPherson Square Reflection

Posted on 07/13/2015 @ 11:55 PM

Stories are one of the most important things in my life. A story is what defines the difference between man and wild, and everyone has one. Everyone has a series of defining moments that explain all of their experiences, desires, and what defines them as a person, and homeless people are no exception.

Today, I did something that I’ve never done before in feeding homeless people in McPherson square. I’ve done the whole soup kitchen thing where you make food for people and you know that the food is going to a great place, but I’ve never experienced the exchange for myself. And it was fascinating. There was one person I met who has been here since he was five. He stays here because he has his family and his friends whom he loves, and he enjoys a lot of the simple pleasures in life that we, as people of means, also enjoy. He was talking about going to movies and listening to music and just hanging out with good friends, which are things that don’t always come to my mind as things a person who is homeless would do. And there was another guy, whose name was Jackson. He’s been living in DC for years and has a daughter and is falling on harder times because his bike got stolen. He didn’t just love the bike because it was his way of getting around, but he loved feeling the nice breeze while riding and wearing crazy socks because people would always ask and compliment about his socks while he was riding.

One of the most important things I’ve ever learned in my life is that people are people first and their situation after that. Everyone’s situation is a story, and those stories are what make us human. Whether you have means, are homeless, have mental issues, are of a different race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or background from me; you are human. Homeless people often get the shortest end of the stick because so many people think that their homelessness is their identity. Homeless people are simply people who happen to be homeless; often because of one bad decision or one key moment in their own lives. Their stories are rich and fruitful; and deserve to be told on listening ears because people are people first and everything else second.

-Michael Blickstein, Great Midwest Region

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Impact: DC 2015 Blog Updates Coming Soon!

Posted on 03/26/2015 @ 05:00 PM

We’re pumped for Impact: DC 2015, and hope you are, too! Check back here once the program starts for live updates all session long!

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