Archive for July, 2017

Ramp It Up! 2017 Reflections

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

By Max, Ramp It Up! Session 1 Reflections

Yachad’s Ramp It Up! summer program offers high school students an opportunity to build a wheelchair ramp. In June 2017 students helped the Evans family, who has had a string of bad luck: one family member lost a leg last year in an accident requiring him to use a wheelchair, plus a devastating fire by an arsonist damaged their house 6 years ago. In addition to building the ramp, Yachad is repairing the inside of the home to help the family get back on their feet.

I felt really good that through a program like Yachad I could help Mr. Evans and his nephew, two people that really and genuinely needed help. The first day I got to Mr. Evans’s house, the front lawn (where we were building the ramp) was green and grassy. Not for long. The week where I was working was the week where we dug footings for ramp posts. We tore up the lawn and began digging 26 footings. It was difficult work and we had to work efficiently, for we had to get the holes approved by an inspector on Thursday. After we got approved we had to pour concrete, and that was messy business. We finished on Friday by placing posts, and prepping the site for the next group.

The whole experience taught me in many different aspects. I learned how to work hard physically, and I also learned how to work as a team to reach a common goal. Each person had their part, and we couldn’t have finished if one person wasn’t there. I also learned the importance of helping people who really need it. There is a big difference from helping someone who doesn’t need it and helping those who need it. Mr. Evans needed the help and the reason helping him was important is because with our help, he could get his life back to the way it was before the incidents. Mr. Evans was in a situation to need this kind of help and he didn’t do anything that got him in this situation. Spending a week this summer helping people truly deserving of the help made me feel good because I was doing something that was actually changing people’s lives for the better. I could have spent the time helping at a local day camp but those kids really don’t need my help. I also learned about the necessity of affordable livable housing in under served communities. Not only should this housing be affordable but it also has to be livable — the conditions should be good and communities should support the people who live there.

Ramp It Up! 2017

Friday, July 7th, 2017

“We are holy people – and all of us are holy – and our worth to others is ultimately going to derive from how we act.” — Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

One week ago today 17 teenagers from our Ramp It Up! program completed building a wheelchair ramp for a family in Capitol Heights, MD. These students from D.C. and Montgomery County opted to kick off their summer in a special meaningful way helping a family that has unfortunately experienced some hardships. The family home was struck by arson 6 years ago, and a family member lost a leg after being hit by a bus last year.

For two weeks, the students worked incredibly hard in the heat and humidity, digging, hammering, drilling, and more to build a life-changing ramp for a stranger they never met. All the students were steadfast and determined no matter the challenge. The success of the project really lies in the group’s ability to work as a team and to collaborate; so many steps required several helping hands, whether navigating wheelbarrows of dirt, mixing cement, moving & securing posts, or measuring & cutting wood. The students supported each other throughout the process.

It was beautiful to watch the construction of the ramp and to see the collective actions of a group; everyone played a vital part. Each person’s work laid the foundation for the next like an interconnected puzzle.

What was even more beautiful to watch was the coming together of individuals to make a difference for a family in our community. As the Talmud teaches us, if we want to be like God, we need to engage in acts of kindness and service.

On the last day of the build, the homeowner expressed his sincere gratitude to the group through tear-filled eyes. This gift the students gave him and his family will be appreciated for years to come—long after the experience has faded from the students’ memory.

What the students said:

“I shouldn’t take what I have for granted.”

“Giving little bit of time can make such a difference for someone else.”

“Spending a week this summer helping people truly deserving of the help made me feel good because I was doing something that was actually changing people’s lives for the better.”

Yachad is repairing the inside of the home to help this family get back on their feet this year. We welcome your financial support for this project. Donate today.