Posted by: ajsssummer | July 14, 2010

And now, a monumentally full update from Kansas City

Life in Kansas City – by Hanna, Rene, Natalie, Rebecca, Oriana

The past two weeks in Kansas City have been filled with laughter.  From doing our laundry for the first time (some of us) to spending a night at bowling, everything has been great.  Each day after a hectic day at work we spend an hour and a half at the JCC. We all swim, work out, play raquetball, go on the swings, and last but not least shower.  After the JCC we eat an amazing dinner planned by the food committee. The food committee decided to plan a cultural diverse week with an Asian, Mexican, Hawaiian, and Italian night.  Going along with the cultural theme, we got to visit a Mormon Visitor Center and learned about their history and time spent in Independence Missouri.  Also in Independence we got to visit the Harry Truman Museum and Library on the fourth of July.  There we got to see a live impersonator and watch a fascinating movie on Harry Truman.  We learned even more history when we invited a WWII veteran and local synagogue member to dine with us.  Marvin taught us all about the Jewish War Veterans and his time in the army. With Marvin came his wife Phyllis who cooks a killer egg salad.

For our other nights we got to explore the city.  One of the first nights here we took a walking tour that ended at the amazing Winstead’s diner for milkshakes and ice cream.  Another night we got to go roller skating and show off our moves.  On a third night we got to enjoy bowling and lack thereof in the group. For fourth of July we ended the day with a trip to a festival. Listening to the famous local band Cherry Bomb got us in the mood for a perfect night. Even with the rain the group kept up their spirits by singing the national anthem.

In our free time back at Ohev the staff prepares discussions that exercise our minds.  Some of the topics include class in society and our Jewish identity.  Hearing different opinions help the group bond on another level.  While a few people go to bed, others discovered a secret room in the synagogue that is perfect for playing Gaga to Lady GaGa.  We continue to bond as the weeks move on no matter where we are.

Work Week One

Our first week of work we cleaned up trash  from a flooded nature trail at Indian Creek, sorted and packed food at Harvester’s food bank, and farmed at two community gardens. The first farm is the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture; we hoed, weeded, and mulched in the hot sun and learned to understand why organic produce costs so much more than conventional food. The second is a project called New Roots for Refugees, which has small plots that women refugee farmers from such countries as Burundi, Bhutan, Somalia, Burma, and Sudan grow food from their home countries and sell and local farmer’s markets.

We are working on three Heartland Habitat for Humanity Sites. One home will go to a recently married couple, another to a single mom with kids, and another to a two parent family with kids. Our site supervisors are Dave, Matt, and Willy. Even when the work projects are hot and unglamorous, we do our best to make them fun.

Work  Week Two by Tara, Stephanie, Zoe, David, Molly

Our work week beginning on July 5 was delayed due to the rain. Instead of working at the local  farm as planned we were finally able to get a good night’s sleep and do our laundry.  On Tuesday we were split into two groups. The large group of nine went to one of the Habitat sites to sweep the floors and clean the house after drywalling before applying primer to the interior walls. The site supervisor was Willie, a great guy who has a dry sense of humor that took us a while to get used to.  The smaller group painted the whole interior of another Habitat home with two coats. Both groups worked hard and were thankful for their nice showers at the JCC.  On Wednesday all of us revisited the house that was primed and painted the walls. In the afternoon we worked at Heartland Habitat’s ReStore. We cleaned appliances, and organized aisles and supplies. e The group was split in two groups again on Thursday. Both groups were in charge of painting the porches with primer and paint.  We got a preview of what we’d look like in a few years because of the super permanent white paint got in our hair making it look gray.  Some of us installed shelves and leveled out dirt underneath the deck to prevent water from seeping into the basement. Even with our aches and pains, bruises and blisters, all us are glad to see we’re making a difference in someone’s life.

St Louis Weekend – by Josh, Emma, Nick, Matt, Sophie

On Friday morning the group packed the vans and headed to St. Louis for an exciting and fun filled weekend. After two hours of driving we reached Columbia, MO, home of Mizzou or University of Missouri. After stuffing our faces at the legendary Shakespeare’s Pizza and some free time for downtown shopping, the groups filled up the vans and went off to our weekend home of Shaare Zedek synagogue.  We unpacked and joined the congregation for a unique and moving Kabbalat Shabbat service. After services, we headed out to a local art festival. Saturday we headed to the famous Gateway Arch. Immediately following we enjoyed a picnic in the park. After that we headed to an old fashioned candy shoppe, Crown Candy Kitchen, and then went to the fabulous flamingo festival in downtown City Garden.  We showered and relaxed at the incredible JCC complete with a rockwall, 3 waterslides, and state-of-the-art gym facilities. Later that evening we took part in a special havdalah service with the congregation. The beauty of the nigguns and the community we felt while swaying around an open flame culminated a joyous shabbat. The night was concluded by experiencing the City Museum. An 11 story building filled with metal jungle gyms, stone tunnels, and slides, the entire place felt like a new world and brought out the inner kids in all of us.  On Sunday we awoke very rested and prepared for the day’s events.  First we went to the St Louis Zoo where we had a friendly competition to see who could photograph the most species of animals. It was great to see all the animals! Afterwards we headed back to the JCC to get cleaned up and ready for our tour of Washington University with Jess. We had dinner on the campus and headed to Ted Drewes for renowned frozen custard for dessert. Then we hopped into the vans for our long trip back home to Kansas City.


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