Friday, August 15, 2014

Giving Back: Cohort 5's Spontaneous Summer of Service

 By Isabel Feinstein, Cohort 5

As is well known by the family and friends of the Boston Diller Teen Fellows, our summer trip to Israel was postponed due to the current events in the area. Thanks to our staff and parents, we have been able to participate in a wide array of group activities during the time we were meant to be away. Many of these opportunities to spend time together manifested in the form of volunteering. Giving back to the local community felt to us like the best thing we could do as a cohort in these circumstances. Once we found out we wouldn’t be going to Israel, we all began making individual plans to occupy ourselves for the few weeks following; therefore, it was understood that not everyone would be able to participate in everything. I am proud of how flexible everybody has been, and how we have adapted to working in smaller subsets of the group.

 The first volunteer event I participated in was an afternoon at Community Servings, a meal program for AIDS patients and their families. Along with Hannah, Sarah, Naomi, Dan, Ranen, Hillel, Josh P., Ilana and Liana, I prepared meals at the location in Jamaica Plain. It was a lot of fun to be with some of the cohort while doing something meaningful, even though we had to wash our hands about five times before we were allowed in the kitchen! The staff working there were funny and personable, and the facility was really nice and well organized. Some of the group had been to Community Servings before, and I know we are all interested in returning at some point, whether it be with Diller or otherwise. The next day, Liana had signed us up to serve dinner at Woods-Mullen Shelter in the South End. It took me a while to get there (shoutout to Hillel for waiting for me) but once I made it, it was a lot of fun. Dan, Izzy, Emma, Hillel, Adin, Sarah and Liana also participated. It was definitely different from Community Servings, since we actually interacted with the people the food was for. That was interesting as every guest was very different: there was a notable mix of age, gender, race, class, and religion. Overall, the people we served were lovely and gracious to us and made the experience better and more comfortable. One woman even told us that she was a part of the greater Boston Jewish community, and made it clear she was familiar with the towns, schools and synagogues we come from. That surprised us all, as we didn’t expect someone who could be one of our mothers to be at Woods-Mullen, but it was also illuminating. Poverty is not confined to one group of people. 

 These two days were just a couple of the many things Cohort 5 has done this summer, but each event has been significant. I am impressed by how fast we recovered from our disappointment, proud that we have been able to make these past few weeks productive, and grateful that I have been able to spend time with my friends.

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