By Avery Drongowski
I don’t necessarily consider myself a photographer, but I love taking pictures for the same reason most people do – to remember and reflect on a particular moment in my life story that made me feel a certain way. I don’t remember the first time I took a “selfie” in the particular fashion for I have become known among my friends, but it’s been a way to capture a moment without stopping and posing, which can change what that moment actually felt like to me. Our Chicago bayit and the community we have built has been a significant part of my AVODAH experience. Capturing the moments I have had with my housemates has been a meaningful way for me to reflect on the the things we’ve done together, program-related or not. The following “selfies” have been taken in our bayit and in and around Chicago. Some are candid, some you can catch all 16 of us smiling, and all of them remind me of the incredible friendships I’ve made and the experiences we’ve shared, whether they are challenging or entertaining.
By Allison Bolgiano
Looking down North Capitol Street at 1:00 am on a Thursday, I get a clear view of the Capitol Building glowing butter yellow. On this blustery January night, I am traversing the streets’ of D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood looking for anyone without a place to stay for the night as part of the annual Point in Time Count of homeless individuals. Seeing the Capitol, I am reminded of the deep divisions between the Democrats and Republicans who work there, three of whom I was able to shake hands with a week earlier during AVODAH D.C.’s advocacy day.
By Rebecca Koppel and Karin Lavie
Social service agencies with similar missions are frequently in competition for adequate funding, talented staff members, and control of policies. The fight over these limited resources leads to inefficient care and serves as a distraction from the real problem. Fortunately, AVODAH corps members have unique access to over a dozen antipoverty organizations throughout the city because of our corps member connections. We are able to facilitate relationships that inspire collaboration over competition.
By Abigail Harris-Ridker and Liz London
“Excuse me, but this happened months ago, why are we only talking about this now?”
– Alina, Sinclair High School book group participant
Alina asked this question during the first day of our Response to Violence curriculum, which addressed the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO as well as police brutality and violence in Chicago and nationally. Alina was angry because she and her peers, most of whom have personal stories of police brutality, had never been given the opportunity to discuss these issues, either in school or in our program. However, it was clear that our book group created a different kind of safe space where she expected we would process these topics together – and she felt ownership over that.
By Aaron Litz
Working with high school kids does two things to you very quickly: it makes you sick from trillions of youthful germs, and it makes you confront how uncool you are. I beat the germs with plenty of sleep and liquids, but I’ve had to travel on my own journey to ‘cool’.
Before we begin, I’ll state my qualifications for writing on the coolness of us adults. I work for BUILD Metro DC, a 4-year entrepreneurship program that keeps high school students excited about college and career success by helping them start their own businesses. The business start-up process is an amazing platform for education, and our students gain skills that many top-performing professionals wish they had.
In our second installment of profiles about our participants, we’re pleased to introduce you to Rebecca Manning, one of our New York corps members:
Tell us about the work that you’re doing at your placement:
I work at a non-profit in NY called the Medicare Rights Center. Prior to working here, my only knowledge about Medicare was that it was a healthcare system available to people over the age of 65. Although true, Medicare is an incredibly complex and specific system that is confusing for me, a 22 year old who was trained extensively on it during my orientation with MRC. If it’s still confusing for me, imagine how confusing, and at times, infuriating, it can be for people over 65.