Celebrating the WSC Work
There is a lot to celebrate and a lot to be proud of after an amazing week for the kickoff adventure of the Wexner Service Corps. Here is a brief snapshot of some of what was accomplished:
  • Just a short time after arriving in New York, we joined forces with local Jewish teens, to remove sand from a community garden at Coney Island. In four hours, our teens removed tons, literally tons, of sand from this garden assisting local gardeners who are overwhelmed by the continued presence of sand that destroyed their gardens as water covered their garden during the Hurricane Sandy.
  • According to our partner organization, NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster, we contributed 540 hours of direct service to 4 families in the communities of Freeport, Copiague, and Cedarhurst.  FEMA puts a value on volunteer labor (which is $17/hour nationally) so that equates to approximately $9,180 that our teens saved these families.  To put it in perspective, the FEMA max grant that any one homeowner can receive is $31,900, and it is rarely granted.  That’s a huge cost savings to homeowners who are struggling to figure out how they are going to continue to finance their recovery process.  
  • We spent two mornings preparing food for Masbia which feeds its 450+ patrons for free every day. That’s 1000 people in need, fed with dignity, because of our teens.
  • WSC cleared an entire plot of land on the devastated South Side of Staten Island with Feeding Family whom we connected to via the Met Council. The group converted a space from an unruly, grown-over, and littered plot of land into a green space that will be shared by the community to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for local residents.
  • WSC spent the afternoons reflecting on the meaning of their service through the lens of a Jewish framework and exploring issues of poverty, privilege and the exacerbating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
  • All of that work adds up 1,464 hours of work that will be leveraged as a donation through Kids Here and There to provide support for two nurses in Lukasa, Zambia!
  • And this was balanced with fun evenings out with Blue Man group, a Mets win, and a delectable final dinner and night out in Times Square to celebrate all of their hard work!
That’s right, your Wexner Service Corps Participants can now drywall, mud, sand, paint, mow, chop and they do it all with a smile! Now get them working at home!
We hope, and based upon initial responses, expect that all the participants had an extraordinarily meaningful and productive experience. We also hope that they’ve been able to convey some of the power of it to you directly. It is fair to say that the trip surpassed even our very high expectations.
Acts of Gratitude you can do to follow up
The work of the Wexner Service Corps is just getting started. Later in the summer we will be in touch with next steps. In the meanwhile, here are some ways to keep up the momentum and energy from last week that we have suggested to the teens.  We hope you will help make some of these action items a reality for your teens:
  • Make a donation to one of our wonderful partner organizations (all links to organization web sites are above). NECHAMA will spend the next year working on Long Island to repair homes and help bring storm victims’ lives back to order and they need plenty of support to get there. We talked a lot about to whom we give and how we give while on the trip – ask your teen to share what he or she learned.
  • Volunteer! Bring the inspiration home and use the summer to find local opportunities to volunteer as a family
  • Encourage your participant to write an article for the OJC, your synagogue bulletin, or your school’s newspaper. Please share anything you write with us, whether it is public or on your own personal blog.
  • Encourage your participant speak about his/her experience by inviting friends and family over to hear what they did, giving a d’var Torah at a Jewish institution, or taking time at a youth group or school club meeting to share their experience. We encourage all our participants to share the importance of volunteering, service, and our responsibility to better the world around you.  Just let us know what you and your participants are doing and we’ll help promote it!
Thank you again for allowing us to take this journey with you. And thank you for your continuing commitment to the good work of the Wexner Service Corps!