Archive for August, 2012

Ramp it Up! Essay Contest Winner

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Yachad held an essay contest for all participants in this year’s Ramp it Up! summer program. The “rampers” were asked, “What did you learn from Ramp it Up?” Out of the twenty-one participants, we chose Jacob Korn’s essay. Congrats, Jacob!

Jacob Korn of Washington, DC, pictured second from the left

After participation in the Ramp it Up! program, I feel that many parts of me have changed in terms of ho I view the world. For one, I have attained a true appreciation for the work of construction workers and for others in related professions. Before this experience, I had never worked on a project even remotely similar. I was really glad that we as a group were able to stick with each other until the very end and put together a terrific ramp. Another thing that I learned as a result of this project was to be truly grateful for what I have. The man, Gregory, for whom we built the ramp, was just minding his own business when several individuals assaulted him. Not long after the attack Gregory suffered a stroke which put him in a wheelchair and impaired his speech, among other things. What happen to Gregory could happen to anyone, and was incredibly unlucky that he was the one to whom the attack occurred.

During the past week I learned a lot about construction. Prior to this program, I had no experience using power tools or even working very much with wood. After completing the program, I feel that I have attained a good knowledge of many things from simply cutting a slab of wood to reading a blueprint. Every morning the carpenter assigned to the project, Roy, would divide us up into 3 or 4 groups and we would all receive specific assignments. Around noon, after completing these assignments, we would break for lunch. We would then be put into new groups and be given new projects for the afternoon. We quickly learned to work together well and after just a day or two we had a good knowledge on using the power tools. Just about all the people participating in the program with the exclusion of Roy and Jose, another carpenter, had none or very limited experience working in this type of environment; however, at the conclusion of the project we had all learned a ton about not only using different tools but also how to work well as a group.

Another thing that I learned as a part of the program was to be especially grateful for all of the opportunities that I have and also just fo simple things that people look past on a regular basis. The man for whom we built the ramp was unfortunate and was at the wrong place at the wrong time, eventually leading to the loss of use of his legs and making it difficult for him to speak. An additional thing for which we should all be more grateful is the fact that we have parents that make sure there is food on the table and care for us. As we all learned from Kendra’s short lesson, anyone can fall into poverty without warning. Something small such as an injury could lead to you losing your job. For many when you aren’t receiving a paycheck you can’t pay your rent, which leads to your being evicted for your apartment and possibly, having to live on the streets. The cycle goes on and on and can affect anybody. Gregory was fortunate to have a loving daughter and other family members who steeped in and were able to help him get back on his feet after he was assaulted.

I feel that participating in the ramp it up program was a really powerful experience for me because it opened up my eyes to how fortunate I am and to be more grateful for the small things in life that I take for granted. In or everyday lives we don’t stop to think about how lucky we are, concentrating more on the things we feel we are missing. We have to learn to focus on the small things and be determined to give help to those who are less fortunate.

Rising Sun Rises!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Yachad began our partnership with the Woodbridge neighborhood’s Rising Sun Baptist Church’s ministry back in 2010.  The church purchased the house right next door in hopes of turning it into a parsonage house for Pastor Mitchell and his wife, Pam, from which they could also run their ministries.  The idea was to have food and clothing pantry downstairs, offer a place for children of imprisoned parents to meet for fun activities on the first floor, and where they could perform AIDS testing and counseling for their surrounding community on the first floor.  From the way it looked then, it was hard to imagine that this would ever become a reality.  However, our partnership was strong, and both the church’s and Yachad’s determination was unyielding.  Two years later with many thanks to the countless volunteers, board members, generous supporters and fantastic contractors, we made the dream a reality.

Please browse through the before and after videos and photos below.

A group of volunteers are going back out to the church for Labor Day to complete some work that is still needed on the exterior of the house.  If you would like to help us, please sign up here.

None of this would have been possible without the assistance from the following groups and individuals:

Pastor Marlow Mitchell
Pam Mitchell
Ilan Scharfstein
Jason Fennell Memorial Fund
Affordable Floorings
Beth El Congregation Youth Group
Temple Micah Congregation Youth Group
Adam Zeren
Danny Moss
JKJ Electric
Richard Feldman, Feldwood Home Improvements
Rising Sun Baptist Church Congregation
Robin Renner
Roy Thillberg
The Wakefield School
Nina Weissberg
We the People-Memorial Day 2010
We the People-MLK Day 2012

Mollie Milchberg’s Mitzvah Party

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

To celebrate Mollie’s Bat Mitzvah, the Milchberg Family will be hosting a Mitzvah Party with Yachad. Mollie’s friends and family will join her in helping to rehabilitate the offices of a community-focused nonprofit in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest Washington, DC.  The nonprofit is called Emory Beacon of Light (EBOL) and their mission seeks to bring self-sufficiency and improve the quality of life to a diverse multicultural and often low-income community in the Georgia Avenue Corridor.   Yachad and EBOL have a long and wonderful partnership that includes such projects as rehabbing the storefronts on the 6100 block of Georgia Avenue, rehabbing a transitional housing center run by EBOL, and helping make plans for a large community center.

On Sunday, October 14th, Mollie and her friends and family will help renovate a house owned by EBOL and turn it into office space.  Currently EBOL has been renting office space around the corner from this house, but wants to put more of their funding toward their programming rather than their overhead, so they have decided to move their offices into this home that they own (and until recently have been using for housing certain community members).

The volunteer group will paint and do other small handyman repairs, all supervised by Yachad’s Construction Manager.  These efforts will be an important part of a large building renovation including drywall, carpentry, electric, and carpentry repairs all done by both professionals and  two other volunteer groups also working on the space in October.

More details on timing, location and how to sign up will be posted here soon.

To find out more about Yachad, please browse through the website.

To read more about similar Mitzvah Projects Yachad has run, click here. You may even see some familiar faces in the pictures!

If you would like to make a donation to Yachad in Mollie’s honor, please click here or send a check to Yachad at 1666 Connecticut Ave, NW, Ste. 500, Washington, DC 20009.  Both on the check or when processing your credit card, you can note Mollie’s name.  We will be sure to notify the family of your generosity.   Thank you so much.