Greetings from everyone down here in Little Rock, Arkansas, and welcome to our blog. Jy’all** know that the name for someone from Arkansas is an Arkansan? Also, the river that runs through Little Rock is the Arkansas River, not the Mississippi. We are learning a lot about the south here at AJSS, but most of all we are learning about southern hospitality. Every person we have met is nicer than we thought possible. Talking to the friendly faces on the street, and telling them what AJSS is all about, is apparently enough introduction to hear their whole life stories. Last week myself and the other 3 staffers met the movers and shakers of the Little Rock Jewish community, and we learned that they know all 1500 Jews who live in the area, all of them seemingly nicer and sweeter than the last. But the south must be getting to me, because as they say down here, I could talk for hours.
So, back to our story… On Sunday, our Little Rockers arrived, and besides some misplaced luggage, everyone settled in very nicely. All of the volunteers have very strong personalities, which revealed themselves immediately, and everyone seems to be getting along great. Actually, we staffers were scared for a bit that all of the icebreakers we had planned were for naught, since the volunteers all immediately broke into introducing themselves and playing vigorous rounds of Jewish geography. However, we spent Sunday evening and some time on Monday doing some team building exercises, set goals for our summer, as well as laying down the ground rules about living in a 21 person community and sharing our wonderful space at Agudath Achim.
Yesterday afternoon was our Little Rocker tour and downtown experience. With the help of Misty, our Habitat for Humanity site coordinator and new best friend, we took a walking tour of downtown Little Rock to help familiarize the volunteers with the main drag. Some highlights included dipping our feet in the fountain outside of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, hanging out in a fountain near the Arkansas River and the original “little rock,” and sitting in the air conditioned River Market. It was hot, ok? We drank a lot of water. Hydration is key… After the tour, the kids went on a photo scavenger hunt where they had to ask shop owners and locals to find everything from an Arkansan flag to a local historic Jewish site. One group even scored some free reusable water bottles full of ice water.
Today we started work. AJSS woke up at an early 6:45, and we got out the door at 8:00 to arrive on a rainy work site where Misty gave us our orientation. The rain turned into some beautiful cool breezes, which are not common for these parts, but we are thankful for them none the less. After our orientation, we drove off to another site which consisted of a mostly constructed house on steel girders in the parking lot of a very large church who’s young adult group sponsored the project. Our job was to get some construction items, such as shingles and lumber, into the house, so that it can be moved to its final location, as well as to clean up any scraps left from construction. After we finished with that, we came to where we are now, the Pulaski County ReStore, where our volunteers are helping Habitat by building some shelving out of leftover and reusable lumber to help with the organization of the store. They had to design and plan the organization themselves, with some power tool help from those of us with more experience. Well, I think that the present is a good place to stop, as I cannot really blog about the future.
-Everyone is great and we are getting along
-The community is amazing and incredibly friendly
-All of the volunteers are hard workers and we are going to have a great summer.
Now I should got help with the shelf building, but I hope you enjoyed this little update.
Until next time,
AJSS 2010 Staff
**southern for “did you all…”