LENDING A HAND IN NOLA
A Reflection of Temple Sholom & J-Teen Leadership’s 2019 Service Trip
by Rabbi Chaya Bender
Greenwich, Conn. — January 22, 2019 — During Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, I accompanied several teens from Temple Sholom and J-Teen Leadership of Westchester on an immersive service trip to New Orleans, LA.
The mission of the trip was to make a direct impact on communities that are still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Our weekend of service began with cleaning and organizing at the Adinkra NOLA School (a Louisiana home study program for Pre-K through 12th graders), as well as a visit to the Poydras Home to spend quality time with their senior residents.
On Sunday, we assisted the non-profit SBP (formerly known as the St. Bernard Project), in finishing to build two homes that will be sold to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Our group covered 1,400 square feet of touch-ups on walls, moldings, and caulking, and 500 square feet of cleaning, leveling and installing flooring. Additionally, $1,000 worth of gift cards collected by the teens were donated to the future homeowners.
Our trip concluded with a visit to the Lower 9th Ward. We volunteered with the Lower 9 Resilient by weeding 9,000 square feet of community gardens, and also gave them donated gift cards to support the local residents and the success of the community gardens.
In addition to participating in the above community service projects, our group also enjoyed Shabbat services and dinner at the historic Touro Synagogue; connected with J-Teen Leadership alumni at the Tulane Hillel, decorated masks at Mardi Gras World; ate beignets in the French Quarter; and explored downtown New Orleans.
It was a whirlwind experience for all of us. In just four days, we helped to foster relationships—both among trip participants and NOLA locals—and were able to show NOLA that we are still here to lend a hand, and to continue to share their story.
If you are interested in participating in future community service trips, please email me at [email protected].
To see more pictures from our 2019 service trip to New Orleans, click here.
TEMPLE SHOLOM TEENS TRAVEL TO SOUTH CAROLINA FOR "WEEKEND OF SERVICE"
Greenwich, Conn.—February 1, 2017—Over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, 9th through 12th graders from Temple Sholom and J-Teen Leadership of Westchester joined together to participate in a teen-led community service experience in Charleston, SC.
The purpose of the trip was to provide assistance, resources and supplies to those in need following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, and for the teens to form a strong and meaningful connection with Charleston’s Jewish community.
“This was a great opportunity for our teens to put Jewish values into action and make a difference beyond their ‘backyards,’” said Gina Pernicano, Temple Sholom’s Public Relations Coordinator, who served as a trip advisor. “It was so rewarding for them to hear the stories of the people they were helping and to see the impact of their efforts firsthand."
The weekend’s community service projects ranged from preparing “resettling kits” at One 80 Place for individuals and families transitioning out of shelter housing, to cleaning and restoring gravestones and monuments at the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in the South. The teens also donated their time and energy to creating oyster bags for reef construction with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and building frames for a new house with Sea Island’s Habitat for Humanity.
Other trip highlights included: historical tours of downtown Charleston and the Magnolia Plantation; a team-building scavenger hunt; social programs with the College of Charleston Hillel, BBYO of Charleston, Dor Tikvah and the Sherman House; and civil rights-themed services at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim and Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (“Mother Emanuel”).
To see more pictures from our 2017 service trip to Charleston, click here.