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Making an Impact

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Making an Impact

This post was written by Danielle Wolff, Diller Teen Fellow Cohort 3

Over the course of our Diller Teen Fellows experience, we were challenged to become leaders and make a difference in our community. This culminated with an Impact Project about an issue we were passionate about.  My team of Elly Qunell, Hannah Silver, Arie Sztainberg, and Ben Zavell, came together over the passion to help individuals.

It was difficult to come up with a project that was realistic and would make a difference. In the midst of frustration, one of us thought about The ARK. The ARK provides free social and medical services to help distressed members of our Chicagoland Jewish family return to self-reliance. All of us had volunteered with The ARK before, so we knew the great impact that they have on their clients. We reached out to the staff and they told us we could partner with them on their upcoming Hanukkah party. Additionally, we decided to collect blankets to donate to their clients.

After months of preparations the day of the Hanukkah party finally arrived. It was inspirational to see people with huge smiles on their faces, even though they might be having a difficult time in their lives. We quickly realized that the only thing the clients really wanted was someone to listen to them. They told us stories, complained about the weather, and talked about how they were feeling. We were honored to be a part of the celebration, and are grateful to the clients for including us and being so welcoming.

As we were cleaning up, Diane, the Assistant Volunteer Director, told us that she was able to give out some of the blankets to specific guests that she knew were in great need. One man in particular told us that his son has only sheets to sleep on. He didn’t have a blanket, or a comforter, just sheets. He was able to get a blanket at the Hanukkah party because of our project, and it was so rewarding knowing that we made impact on at least one person that day.

The whole experience of creating an impact project as part of the Diller Teen Fellows of Chicago will be a memorable one for me. Not only did we collect over 50 blankets, feed over 200 people and help clear tables, but our actions impacted someone else's life. They might not remember the impact years from now, but I sure will.

Diller Teen Fellows is a 15 month international leadership fellowship focusing on Jewish Identity, Israel and Tikkun Olam. The program is open to 10th and 11th graders, and is funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment of San Francisco; The Crown Family; The Swartzberg/Zoller Family Foundation; and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.