As participants in AJSS, we have been active volunteering with an organization called YouthBuild. YouthBuild helps people between the ages of 16 and 24 to finish their GEDs and acquire certification in the fields of nursing, landscaping or construction. One of our jobs has been to help prepare the campus for donations and to beautify the campus. We have done a lot of planting, picked garlic, lain sod, moved countless wheelbarrows of dirt and mulch, and sorted seeds. We do this to help the staff and the students at YouthBuild. It has been an honor to work there and great to see how much we accomplish each day. I came to AJSS to make a visible difference in a community, and that is exactly what YouthBuild is about. On our second day in Louisville we went to a ceremony for the unveiling of life-size playhouses made at YouthBuild for children with disabilities. It was amazing to see. The people we work with at YouthBuild are great, and I look forward to working with them more for the rest of the summer. It’s also great working with the other AJSS participants—building relationships that I know will last after the summer ends. Although it’s hot and the physical work is sometimes hard, it’s rewarding and it has been a life changing experience to be a part of it. I know I’m not the only one who can see myself working with YouthBuild in the future and working with other organizations we partnered with this summer on AJSS.
On Tuesday July 3rd, AJSS Louisville divided into four groups to serve this community in different ways. I went to the Franciscan soup kitchen with five of my fellow AJSSers. The kitchen serves lunch for people of all religions and faiths. When we arrived at the soup kitchen the other, more experienced volunteers had already begun to set up for lunch, so we jumped right in. We began by setting tables and wrapping spoons (wrapping spoons is actually a rather difficult task). Then, people started arriving at about 10:30 am en mass. I put an apron and a hat on and started serving the salad. After I was serving the salad for about ten minutes time started to fly. Almost all of the less privileged people that received food were very thankful and appreciative, and it made me feel like I was actually making a difference in the world. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true. If we weren’t there to help serve food, the kitchen most likely would have been understaffed, and there might have been people living on the streets who couldn’t receive food. Along with my peers, we helped better society through one small act.
Alana Cohen & Beth Reisman