This year I spent many nights volunteering at the men’s homeless shelter at my synagogue. Me duties were very limited. I basically had to unlock the beds, the pantry, log the mens’ names as they arrived, write down if they were running out of bread, canned tuna, or soap, and wait two hours for the overnight volunteer. They did the vast majority of the setting up by themselves, and could have done it all, but for technical the synagogue needed to always have at least one volunteer present. Often while I waited one or two of them would come talk to me. I didn’t pry, but they often were glad to have someone to listen to them, and I learned a lot. I learned that most of them worked extremely hard, often with relatively high-paying jobs with terrible hours and no security. I learned that almost all of them had been launched into homelessness by some unaddressed physical or mental health problem. I don’t think they were representative of the homeless population of New York City; the shelter only has room for ten people per night and works closely with social work organizations that are extremely selective, trying to help the people they think have the best chance of getting back on their feet. Those organizations do very good work with very limited resources, and the synagogue helps out as much as it can, but this isn’t a sustainable or humane system. A real solution to this problem will come from local government and will use federal money, and will tackle health issues, unjust housing practices, and worker’s rights.
I went to the Climate March in Washington DC on April 29th. It was a great experience as seeing so many people are fighting against Trump’s ignorance in saving the climate. We only have one planet Earth and it is necessary to make Earth sustainable. We, as citizens, are obligated to whatever we can to prevent the climate from getting worse. And that includes opposing any political figure such as the president who is unwilling to pay any attention to the aggravating climate problems. During that particular march, I learned that as long as the people are united, we can still save our planet. This is the power of humanity.
On April 29th, a I went to Washington DC for the Climate March. I of us had to be at school at 6 o’clock in the morning in order to get to Washington at around noon. When I got to DC it was almost 90 degrees outside. There were almost 200,000 people who showed up at the march and the plan was for all of us to surround the white house. This was my first time doing a demonstration like this and it was a really empowering experience and I hope to do something like this again one day.
For one of my out-of–school service opportunities, I helped with the Meeting Hour Shelter Benefit Concert. I thought it was a good experience for me and it was a lot of fun.
This year I tutored at Reading Partners (http://readingpartners.org) at PS 188 The Island School. My experience with Reading Partners taught me the importance of offering help to those in need for no charge and I am thankful to have been apart of this program. I tutored several first and second graders weekly over the course of the year and it was highly rewarding to see their progress over time. As a young student, I dreaded reading and viewed it as a chore and a task that just had to be completed, so I feel that it’s my duty to make reading an exciting and enjoyable experience for struggling beginners. I’m proud of what the students that I have worked with have learned this year and I hope to continue my volunteer work with Reading Partners in the future.
This year’s service day, I went to a facility that packaged medical supplies going out to countries in need. It was intense to see some of the supplies that had to be packaged and sorted because it made me think about what would have to happen to people for them to need things like a huge wound dressing or a breathing tube. Not only do these people need supplies because they are struggling, but the fact that they can not go to a hospital and expect these supplies to be available like we can is something to think about in terms of waste and privilege.
This year, I volunteered at Gallop NYC, which is a non-profit organization in which children with special needs receive therapeutic horseback riding. The horses can be used for physical therapy if someone has a physical disability, or they are used to help children learn how to ride the horse (steering, trotting, etc.) I have worked with multiple children on the Autism Spectrum, those with ADHD and those with CP (Cerebral Palsy). This is my second year working at this organization, and I have had a positive experience this year.
At the beginning of this year I set out to complete my out of school community service hours with a nonprofit organization since I had previously been relying on larger events that the school offered. I decided to join a new club named CHAI, Children’s Hardships Awareness Initiative to help make an impact on less fortunate children. The club soon partnered with an organization named Hyolmo Society of America, a community center located in Queens that aimed to aid children of Nepalese immigrants in Queens. They had asked us to help tutor some of these children on the weekends. Almost every Sunday the club dedicates two hours to help tutor. When we were first emailed about this opportunity by the club leaders they said that the organization was very excited for us to help and that about twenty-five children would be waiting for us.
When I first came to a tutor session on Sunday I did not realize how many different ages would be present. One of the club leaders brought some homemade brownies for the kids to eat while we helped them with their various homework assignments. The parents sat in a small room to the side of ours and would come in at times to check in on their kids progress. Some of the children who were younger and did not have any homework would draw on the big whiteboards provided to us by the community center. At the end of each session we dedicated about ten minutes for a small game such as four corners, red light green light, simon says, or musical chairs. At the end of each session when we drove away together the younger kids would wave to us as we disappeared out of sight.
Over the summer and during the winter, I was able to give food and supplies to people in need with my Church. I was able to learn about their life struggles and learned to appreciate both my beautiful privileges and my struggles. I learned a lot about different people and myself. I am very grateful for this experience.
The service I am reflecting upon is my gathering of information on the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for my politics class. For this class, we were instructed to study one specific subsection of each front runner’s campaign (e.g. healthcare, tax reform, environment, etc…) and create a page listing purely the information found from appropriate websites. This included scouring both candidates’ websites and reading several articles from accredited news sources. A major aspect of the project was trying to remain unbiased, as the mission of the assignment was to present as much information as possible and then have the reader decide on their own their stances. A very interesting part of this project for me was analyzing how other sources presented information, analyzing their unwritten biases and comparing them to the facts presented on each campaign website. Another interesting aspect was analyzing how each candidate presented their stances on certain issues, with one candidate providing clear and concise responses, with the other sometimes choosing to not elaborate on some controversial topics. This leads me to another part of the project that I found interesting, which was trying to present as unbiasedly as possible when a candidate did not provide information at all for a certain subject. This was a difficult task, and I felt as though I was constantly attempting to write with bias. I think that this project enabled me to further explore how important writing, and language in general, functions in influencing others’ minds. It also allowed me to view alternate perspectives on controversial topics I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do so.