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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!


Service, Georgetown, Lobby Prep!

Posted on 07/21/2014 @ 10:00 PM

Another early morning here at Impact DC. Some of us headed to the Wider Circle to organize toys, fold clothing, repair furniture, move items, and help clients load their vehicles with furniture. We were lucky enough to see the clients who we have been helping today as they came to select their much-needed items. The other half of us worked to better the Hillel here at University of Maryland by planting flowers and painting pots. It was so rewarding to contribute to the community we have become a part of together.

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Teens hanging out in Georgetown

This afternoon, we traveled to Georgetown to explore the wonderful college town. Many of us indulged in local food such as burgers and cupcakes. It was a really fun day!

We headed back to Hillel to continue our last push of advocacy preparation before we lobby to our congressmen and congresswomen tomorrow. Everyone has been working very diligently to lobby for issues that mean so much to us. Impact has given us the skills and opportunity to showcase our abilities and advocate for our beliefs in a way we have never experienced. We are looking forward to tomorrow's meetings!

This blog post was written by Rachel Blume (Westchester Region)

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Shabbat Shalom from Impact DC!

Posted on 07/18/2014 @ 06:00 PM

Today the teens split up into 3 service groups, one going to the Capital Area Food Bank, one went gleaning at Miller Farms, and the last one went to A Wider Circle. Being that tonight is Shabbat, today’s blog post must be written early, so we will give you a few sneak peeks of tonight’s and tomorrow’s activities. The theme of Shabbat is “Earth, Wind, and Fire” because of the many spiritual connotations these elements have as well as the relationship that the theme has with the community service aspect of Impact:DC. The teens broke up into five groups to plan Friday night and Saturday morning services, create the Shabbat atmosphere, learn Shabbat songs, and prepare for the Shabbat rituals. The teens are exhausted from the workload this week and are excited to rest on Shabbat tonight and tomorrow.

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Teens doing service at Miller Farm

Today my service group went to Miller Farms to pick kale and collard greens to donate for those in need. When my group arrived at the farm, nobody was there to assist us and teach us what to do. While we were disappointed that we were unable to complete the service, we decided to look at the situation from a different perspective. We learned to always follow through in our plans especially when it takes a commitment from two different sides. While we understand that it was miscommunication between the two parties we are going to do our best to help out in the local UMD Hillel garden instead. We’re very excited to do the work!

The first week of Impact:DC has been an incredible experience and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the upcoming week!

This blog post was written by Matthew Hall (Lonestar Region)

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Impact DC Day 5!

Posted on 07/17/2014 @ 10:00 PM

Today started off with a later wake up time as all the participants got to sleep in an extra half hour. With the extra rest, we were very excited to visit the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign, the National Coalition for the Homeless, and the Natural Resource Defense Council. Participants had a blast learning from the representatives of these organizations as they explained their purpose and how they could impact their communities. After a relaxed and long lunch, teens heard from Mandee Heinl, a lobbyist from the Baltimore Jewish Council, as she explained how her organization stands up for Israel in local and national legislation. Next, participants had the opportunity to hear from Oren Marmorstein, a representative from the Israeli embassy about the current situation in Israel. Teens from all around the world were on the call as BBYO hosted it in DC. The teens then discussed what they heard and learned from the call and shared their feelings and opinions with each other. Dinner commenced, and the daily advocacy session began followed by a fruitful circle. Laila Tov!

This blog post was written by Shea Fallick (Rocky Mountain Region)

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Teens visiting the National Coalition for the Homeless

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Working Hard to Make a Difference

Posted on 07/16/2014 @ 10:00 PM

Today, we started off Impact DC with our Limmud (Jewish learning) sessions, where each group analyzed both secular and Jewish passages that revolved around the values of dignity and respect. We discussed how listening is the ultimate form of respect, and shared our past experiences of feeling respected and disrespected. After our Limmud session, everyone went to their assigned service group. My group travels to multiple sites and we went to the Capital Area Food Bank with another group. Once we arrived, we went into a giant room with a conveyor belt, where food was sorted and packaged into boxes. Being able to talk to the volunteers was particularly interesting. I met a man named Luke, who was volunteering with fellow coast guard friends.

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Jenny Park doing community service at Capital Area Food Bank

Later in the day, we learned Israeli dancing, which was definitely a highlight in my day! It was so fun and everyone seemed to love it and let loose. Next, we had broke up Into our states groups, where my group worked on our campaign about Israel, which is what we will be lobbying for next week in front of our Senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey.

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Impact DC teens participating in Israeli dancing

After, we wound the night down with our circle group to reflect on our day. Lastly, some friends and I went to get Fro-Yo to top off the night (literally and figuratively!) It was the perfect way to end the night. I'm eager to continue volunteering around the DC area and feel I'm benefiting as a leader and advocate. The experiences here really open me up to the real world, and I've realized how lucky I am to be so fortunate. Volunteering is so rewarding for me and it's inspiring to know my friends and I are impacting others lives.

This blog post was written by Jenny Park (Keystone Mountain Region)

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Never Again

Posted on 07/15/2014 @ 10:00 PM

Today we had a meaningful day at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. We started by listening to the stories of Holocaust survivor Louise Israels from Holland. 18-year-old Sam Charles of North Florida Region said, "I was deeply impacted by the shoes of the deceased Jews and weapon displays". 17-year-old Matthew Hall (Lonestar Region) felt that "it was a really touching museum that beautifully showed me the atrocity of World War II and the Holocaust". 16-year-old Zoe Van Slyke from North Florida Region says that, "after attending the March of the Living and touring the concentration camps, [the museum] was a flashback from what I saw… this was the best of what I've seen". Today we also had a program on the fast of 17 Tammuz, after our Limmud session, or text study. We had another advocacy session to learn more information about advocacy and lobbying. Can't wait for tomorrow!

This blog post was written by Jay Seline  (Norther Region East: DC Council) and Jake Cimbal (Gold Coast Region)

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Our First Full Day of Impact!

Posted on 07/14/2014 @ 10:00 PM

Today was a great first full day at IMPACT: DC! Participants started the day with an inspiring speech from a person who was formerly homeless who talked about his struggles, success, and motivation. He started off with a little background before asking participants to outline his story through our own questions. We asked about his early life, from family to college, and ultimately how he became homeless and how he was able to overcome that. We learned he was so similar to us because he grew up in a supporting family and ended up going to college. He inspired us to look at homelessness from a different angle and consider the stories behind it.

After that, we went to MacPherson Square to learn from and interact with homeless people. We were encouraged to walk up to them and offer a listening ear, or a friendly smile. We interacted with a wide range of people, from those who wanted to talk about the government to pregnant women with no place to go. A few of us also went to CVS to purchase toothpaste, socks, and anything else we thought might be useful to hand out to the people we saw. It was both saddening and inspiring because we knew we could make their day a little brighter. In addition, we discovered a newspaper called Street Sense, which homeless people can buy for 50 cents and then redistribute for a recommended $2 donation. Many of us bought them and found they were very interesting.

We split up into our site groups – A Wider Circle, Capital Area Food Bank, and Arlington Food Assistance Center. At A Wider Circle, we learned that they pick up and distribute gently used furniture, dishes, and clothing. The average family who comes to pick anything up makes $12,000 or less annually and has 3 children and 1 parent. We helped move and clean the things that would later be distributed to families. At the food banks, we were assigned to specific food groups and pulled the assigned foods off of a conveyor belt. We learned a lot and are excited to keep going back!

Later, we split up into states for an advocacy program in which we explored different issues and political views of our states. We learned which senator, representative, or aide we will be lobbying to and decided our issues after much debate. We ended the night in our circle groups and discussed our days and how we were feeling before splitting up to go hang out at Chofesh.

We’re excited to explore our Jewish history during an impactful day tomorrow at the Holocaust Museum.

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This blog post was written by Rachel Brenner (North Texas Oklahoma Region), Aaron Dobres (Ohio Northern Region), Sophie Gershenwald (Lonestar Region), and Ilana Loory (North Florida Region)

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IMPACT: DC 2014 coming soon!

Posted on 05/05/2014 @ 05:00 PM

IMPACT: DC 2014 is coming soon! Make sure to check back here for blog updates and below for pictures!

Here's to an epic #BBYOSummer2014

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