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Gimme Shelter: Yachad's Blog

Cross Bridges and Build Community

by Alex Ransenberg

JBG SMITH, one of Yachad’s ongoing corporate partners, joined us mid-September to repair a home in DC. Skilled JBG SMITH team members installed a new kitchen, including cabinets, sink, countertops, and a new vinyl tile floor, while unskilled team members painted multiple rooms and removed basement carpet that had become soiled due to sewage backup issues. Alex Ransenberg looks back at their community service day with us.

I had the privilege of joining Yachad in renovating an existing house in Southeast DC for an afternoon in which I found a combination of teamwork and labor resulted in an improved home for the owners. When I drove over the 11th St. Bridge into Southeast, I realized just how sheltered I was from an entirely different DC than the one that I am used to, living in Northwest on U St. I was pleasantly surprised to find the neighborhood quaint with an abundance of nature surrounding the area. Once I walked into the house, it was clear why some level of renovations was necessary.

Walking up to the house I was greeted by the Yachad organizers who were preparing for the afternoon crew, while the morning shift enjoyed lunch. There was a brief introduction to the remaining work that needed to get done and then we were on our own. One of the great aspects of Yachad is that whether you are acquainted with the people you are volunteering with or not, you all will know each other by the end of the project. Before the project, I was working with strangers and by the end, I had made new acquaintances. The work was physically demanding, but we knew we were making a difference by helping improve someone’s life.

After a few hours of painting new walls, I found myself exhausted by the work but satisfied by what we just accomplished. We were fortunate to be able to meet the owners which, I think added to our desire to produce good work. They were so appreciative of what we were doing and were excited for their renovated home.

Although this was only the second Yachad project I have worked on, one thing stayed consistent at both: that by working together, there are no limits to how impactful an organization can be. For volunteers, Yachad provides an opportunity to meet neighbors they might not otherwise get to know and to literally lend a hand with physically demanding, yet satisfying work. For homeowners, Yachad provides access to a better home and life. Overall, by bringing people from different backgrounds together, we are seeing other perspectives and creating a more understanding community.

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