Summer may inspire doldrums in many places but not so within Engage Jewish Service Corps. Summer 2016 was rife with a wide variety of activities for all interests. Below are representative samples.
Voter Registration Training
On July 15, Engage members met with representatives from the League of Women Voters for voter registration training. Registration efforts begin this month.
Center for Jewish History Tour
On July 21, 15 Engage participants visited the Center for Jewish History, where the day began with an introduction by the director of genealogy. A docent then conducted a guided tour of the center's extensive research library and a few other key collections and exhibits.
Living Well Together Orientation
Also on July 21, a group of Engage volunteers met with representatives from the Transition Network for an information session about its new Living Well Together program, which may become part of Engage. Living Well Together, a mutual support initiative, helps people within communities support each other with activities such as assistance with chores, appointments, information sharing, etc., when there are medical needs. Next steps include disseminating a survey and forming a planning committee.
Women’s Group: Council House's Back 2 School Event
The Back 2 School event held at the National Council of Jewish Women New York (Council House) on August 7 was a major success. Over 20 volunteers from the Engage Women's Group supported this project by helping to set up and by serving as "personal shoppers" for 175 children from underserved communities, who were fully outfitted with clothing, shoes, jackets, sneakers, backpacks, school supplies, etc., all of which they chose for themselves with the help of the volunteers.
JCC Manhattan's Cancer Spa Day
The Shirley Kohn Spa Day for Women in Treatment for Breast or Ovarian Cancer event took place at JCC Manhattan on July 17 and was a special day of pampering and inspiration for 80 women living with cancer. Fifteen to twenty Engage volunteers helped to stuff goody bags, decorated and transformed the auditorium into a spa setting, offered general “stage hand” help managing the day itself, and provided clean-up afterward.
Met Council on Jewish Poverty's Project Reach Out
Through this effort, which takes place twice a month on Tuesdays, from 3 to 5 pm, and on Thursdays, from 1 to 3 pm, Engage volunteers contact Met Council program recipients by phone to learn about their experiences receiving public benefits. They also probe to learn about other assistance that might be helpful to them and help direct them to appropriate resources. This program will continue throughout the fall.
HIAS Letter Writing to Asylum Seekers
On August 11, a group of Engage volunteers learned about the plight of undocumented immigrants from all over the world who currently live in less than desirable conditions in detention centers in this country, and who are waiting for their paperwork to be finalized. During this event, at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in Manhattan, volunteers wrote letters to the immigrants, offering hope and support to otherwise despondent people. HIAS letter writing is a continuing program with more opportunities to get involved this fall and beyond.