A group of dedicated volunteers are involved in advocacy work through Engage Jewish Service Corps at JCC Manhattan. They are seeking change on a systemic level. They are not only assisting people at a soup kitchen or a senior center; they also want to ensure that these programs remain funded; they want to increase these programs’ reach and visibility. In short, they are working toward nothing less than tikkun olam, creating a better world.
Who are these dreamers? They are Engage volunteers in their 50s, 60s, and beyond, and still idealists at heart.
Barbara Allen leads the group. Her background in governmental affairs and her recent advocacy training make her a perfect fit for this role. She facilitates the efforts of the group with strategy sessions and by ensuring each team member liaisons with a partner organization (such as JASA or the Hunger Action Network of New York State).
Stu Lahn is the liaison with JASA and is a very active participant in their efforts to ensure adequate funding so they can continue to provide an array of senior services. He attends rallies and has met with City Council members to advocate for senior causes.
Rebecca Herman remembers first learning about the power of advocacy when she went to student rallies addressing the struggle for Soviet Jewry in her high school days. Recently she and a friend, Robyn Gottlieb, became passionate about efforts to fight hunger. They have been actively involved in a letter-writing campaign to elected representatives urging their support for the Childhood Nutrition Authorization program; and have participated in outreach programs for SNAP (formerly known as the food stamp program).
Of course, Rabbi Brian Fink, director of Engage, has a critical role. He provides both the inspiration and practical resources (in conjunction with UJA and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, among other groups). He has set the group focus to work on issues of hunger/poverty, services for the elderly, and the needs of those with disabilities. But, of course, that is only the beginning. I am sure we will be hearing about more partner organizations, more volunteers, more group activities, and more causes…so stay tuned!
For more information about the Advocacy group, please contact Brian Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org.