Archive for July, 2015

Wisdom from Ramp It Up! Week 2!

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Each summer, we feature TWO outstanding essays from our Rampers. Here’s our Week 2 Featured Essay!

Week 2 Ramper Essay:

“Through working for Yachad in the Ramp It Up camp, I have learned many things. What I have taken away ranges from personal improvement, such as learning many new construction related skills, to a broader knowledge on life with disabilities or life with poverty.

One of the main points I have learned from this camp is how something as simple as a ramp can hold a community together. By building this ramp, I have learned how it will allow Ms. Jackson to hold and keep her social and community ties intact when she would otherwise be stuck in her house. However, the ramp does not only strengthen the community on the side of Ms. Jackson. Our own community, the Jewish community, was strengthened by building this ramp. In building this ramp, I put myself in situations that would not have otherwise occurred with people I would not have otherwise met. This increased the bond between the members of our community and built a bridge between out community and Ms. Jackson’s community, evident when Mia (Ms. Jackson’s daughter) worked with us for many days as though she was part of the community. And that is because Mia was a part of the community. Through building the ramp, Mia and Ms. Jackson’s family were accepted into our community and vice versa.

As I built this ramp I also learned and had many realizations about poverty and low-income families. I was able to clearly see as I built the ramp that someone in a low income facility, in a low income neighborhood is not inherently bad due to their situation. I guess this goes to the nature vs. nurture debate, and it was made that argument less clear for me. I can no longer clearly take either side. Although, the people in Ms. Jackson’s neighborhood, or at least family, were amiable in every way, that could not and should not be assumed to apply to the whole neighborhood. I realized this as I was listening to the radio and a story about I-Phone thefts and metro stations occurred. I could not think this was a coincidence when they mentioned more I-Phones being stolen at the Capitol Heights station, Ms. Jackson’s neighborhood’s station, more than any other stations mentioned. I still do not know whether this is due to poverty causing a higher percentage of people with a predilection to crime, or whether the poverty sets people in a situation where they believe they need to resort to crime. Either way, I have learned by building this ramp that poverty may be a negative effect, sometimes resulting in people resorting to crime, however it does not necessarily effect everyone negatively, such as the Jackson family, if there are people or organizations like Yachad that are willing to help improve their lives.

On a personal level, by building this ramp I gained many skills related to construction that I would not have otherwise. I think I drilled more during these two weeks than in my whole life prior to this camp. People like Roy (the contractor) and Pastor Jose (the carpenter) were able to teach me many skills which I can apply throughout the rest of my life. Due to the knowledge I gained through building this ramp of cutting, drilling, digging, mixing, hammering and more, I will be able to more successfully contribute and apply these skills to other community service projects in my future.”

Wisdom from Ramp It Up! Week 1

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Each summer, we feature TWO outstanding essays from our Rampers. Here’s our Week 1 Featured Essay!

Week 1 Ramper Essay:

“As I reflect on my experience this past week at Yachad’s Ramp It Up camp, I am left with many important lessons. These lessons include the importance of affordable housing, social justice and community service. Although I have heard about affordable housing and social justice, I have never experienced them first hand. My experience this week working at the Jackson family home made me appreciate the importance of affordable housing to those who are less fortunate than me.

The first day of camp was especially challenging and was probably the hardest of all 5 days. At first, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know the counselor, contractor or carpenter. As the days passed I continued to feel more comfortable around the campers, staff and even the Jackson family. Each day became easier as we formed a routine and could actually see the beginning formations of the ramp. Each morning I looked forward to the work ahead of me and what we would accomplish that day. Something that I really enjoyed was working with Ms. Jackson’s daughter, Mia. Even though Mia was not signed up to help us work this week, she voluntarily decided to help. She consistently took initiative, whether it was when a speaker asked someone to read, or it was when Roy (the contractor) asked us to do something. Her determination inspired me to push harder and to not give up.

This week has made me a stronger person both physically and mentally. throughout this week, our group dug 19 holes each 30 inches deep. After we passed our inspection we filled them with cement, and placed wooden blocks in the cement to stabilize the ramp. This work required a tremendous amount of effort, focus and teamwork. Despite the tedious work, we were able to make the most of it and enjoy our time together. I was able to become friendly with people I had known of, but had never really been friends with before. I was also given the opportunity to try things I had never done before, such as dig holes and mix cement. This week not only made me stronger, it also made me wiser. From the discussions at lunch, to our guest speakers, I feel that I have gained a larger insight into homelessness, poverty and social justice. I looked forward to our daily discussions and appreciated that the speakers took time out of their busy lives to come and talk to us.

I am fortunate to have taken part in this week’s Ramp It Up and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help those less fortunate than me. I know that our ramp will be a major help to Ms. Jackson and change her life for the better. Thanks for a great week!”

You did it! Ramp It Up 2015!

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Ramp It Up! 20 teens, 2 weeks and a 55′ ramp!

A few words from the teens who mad it all happen:

“…I realized how we were not only helping the Jackson family and Ms. Jackson, but they were also helping us. They were giving us a great opportunity to really do
something meaningful.”

“…By using just a week of my time an amazing feat can be accomplished.”

“I learned at Ramp It Up! how fun and productive it is to work as a team. When we finished I felt all the more satisfied because I knew that I had done that with a lot of other people and we had all accomplished this together.”

“This is what Tikkun Olam is all about.”

“What I have taken from these two weeks ranges from personal improvement, such as learning many new construction related skills,
to a broader knowledge on life with disabilities or life with poverty.”

“I got to contribute my time and abilities and actually got to spend time with the family that was being helped. This was truly gratifying.”

“…Through the talks I got to hear about disability rights, social justice, poverty and gentrification. All of the talks helped to see a larger image of what we were
doing there on this ramp.”

“Building this ramp increased the bond between members of our community and built a bridge between our community and Ms. Jackson’s community.”