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Gimme Shelter: Yachad's Blog

Ramp it Up! Essay Contest Winner

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.

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