Healthy Living Month at Repair the World

Tis the season…for healthy living!

Staying healthy is important all year round, but January is a big month when people re-up their commitment to eat well, exercise more, and get spiritually centered. That’s why, all January long Repair the World will be celebrating Healthy Living Month on our blog.

Join us here throughout the month for interviews with some of our favorite healthy living organizations – groups that inspire us to get on our bikes, eat delicious, healthy food, drink lots of water (and a lot less soda!) and help others do the same. Meanwhile, we will share inspiring stories and lots of tips to help you change yourself while changing the world!

Here are some of our favorite posts from Healthy Living Month:
Drink Up with First Lady Michele Obama
How to Start a Healthy Living Club at Work or School
Repair Interview: Jerusha Klemperer of FoodCorps
Top 5 Ways to Volunteer While Getting Healthy
Spotlight on Hazon’s Jewish Bike Rides

Got an inspiring healthy living story to share? Hit us up on Twitter @repairtheworld.

Seasons of Giving: Interview with David Weinberger of ioby

Ever heard the term NIMBY? It stands for “Not in My Backyard,” and is used frequently in environmental and social movements to describe residents or organizations that oppose local projects that they perceive to negatively impact them. For example: protesting against wind power turbines that generate alternative energy because they are an “eyesore.”

Imagine if everyone felt the opposite. If we all actively said yes and worked together to help our communities thrive. Enter ioby (or “In our Backyard”), an organization that supports community-led environmental projects by providing a crowdsource funding platform that lets neighbors support local initiatives. Like a community garden. Or a new bike lane or a recycling program. Since its founding, ioby has enabled donors to give more than $600,000 and thousands of volunteer hours to nearly 300 community-led projects in New York City and nationally. On average, donors live 2 miles or less from the projects they support: talk about community giving, and community empowerment.

ioby’s Director of Project Development, David Weinberger, took a few minutes to share ioby’s philosophies and amazing work with Repair the World. Read on!

What was the inspiration behind ioby?
The three cofounders met in grad school at Yale and all moved to New York City in 2007 for jobs in environmental fields. They began to notice that many conversations around environmental issues seemed to center around things that felt remote and far away – like icebergs melting and the plight of the polar bears. They realized that in order to help bring these issues global to the forefront, people had to start locally. So they started ioby, which is the exact opposite of NIMBY. It offers a platform for people people who have a great idea for an environmental project in their neighborhood to raise money via crowdsourced funding, connect with volunteers, and get support behind their project.

A very small percentage of philanthropic dollars end up going to grass roots groups. Money is typically reserved for traditional organizations. That’s important work, but these small, informal groups of neighbors tend to get shafted. ioby builds the capacity for them to raise money, be more self sustaining, and be strong and connected.

How many cities is ioby in at this point?
We started in New York City and went national a little over a year ago. There are projects in 80 cities right now, and we opened an office in Miami earlier this year. We are working with the Miami Dade office of sustainability, partnering on their sustainability plan and helping to connect the office to small, local groups. We were really interested in seeing how ioby would fit into a municipal government context, and Miami has a lot of interesting climate and environmental work going on right now. (Check out ioby’s Miami-based projects.) We are also working with the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team in Memphis, helping to build out the neighbor side of things.

What are the most common types of projects people submit?
A couple years ago, when we were focused solely on New York we would have said community gardening projects were most popular. As we’ve gone national,  we are seeing a lot more projects about infrastructure and transportation. We helped a project in Memphis raise $80,000 to create a protected bike lane. A bunch of members of the community decided to take the revitalization of the downtown area into their own hands. They took paintbrushes and solicited local artists and painted their own bike lane on Broad avenue in Memphis. It became incredibly popular and the city took notice and raised another million dollars to make it official. We worked with Livable Memphis to make it happen.

You mentioned there’s a volunteer component to ioby’s crowd sourcing?
On every project page, there’s a button that says, “inquire about volunteering.” When a project leader posts their project, they can request volunteers. So donors can give money, but they can also sign up to help make a project happen – volunteering on a work day, or in some other capacity. We’ve heard a lot of great success stories about that.

Who can start an ioby project?
Anyone can start a project on ioby. You can either submit a really short form letting us know what you’re thinking about, and we’ll help you take it to the next stage of development. We invite people to join a 30 minute introductory webinar on grass roots organizing, and things like how to set goals. If you’re further along in the process, you can post a full project that includes an itemized budget, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what steps you envision taking. ioby is already popular in cities, but more and more people in suburbs and rural areas are also reaching out about revitalizing their own downtowns and making a difference.

Got a project in mind or want to learn more about ioby? Check out the video below and visit their website for more info.

Seasons of Giving: Where to Volunteer This Christmas?

It may not be a Jewish holiday, but Christmas still has Jewish traditions. Like watching movies. And eating at Chinese restaurants. And volunteering! All around the country, thousands of Jews take advantage of the day off, and volunteer at soup kitchens, shelters, nursing homes, and community centers.

This year, join in the holiday action! Here are a few great ways to plug in and volunteer this Christmas.

Washington DC JCC Join 1,000 other volunteers for a day of service on Christmas Day. Activities include everything from wrapping and delivering gifts, to serving meals, to performing songs for hospital patients.

Jewish Muslim Day of Service, St. Louis In this uniquely awesome event on Christmas Day, Jews and Muslims come together on Christmas to serve others. They are also running a huge toiletry drive to serve people in need.

Pittsburgh Christmas Mitzvah Day The Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh is organizing a huge mitzvah day on Christmas. There will be opportunities to care for the sick, volunteer at an animal shelter, feed hungry people – and more.

Jewish Volunteer Connection, Baltimore Join hundreds of volunteers in making the holiday brighter for others by participating in this mitzvah day. Opportunities include making and delivering care packages, welcoming home troops serving abroad, volunteering at a local shelter.

JUF Mitzvah Mania, Chicago On Dec 25, visit elderly residents at the CJE SeniorLife Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation as part of JUF’s mitzvah mania event.

Tikun: Light up a Life, London If you live in London and want to make a difference during the Christmas season, check out Tikun’s great, multi-day program. Activities include everything from bringing chocolates to seniors, arts and crafts projects with the disabled, and tea runs for the homeless.

Know of another great volunteer opportunity for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Season of Giving: Five Ways to “Give Differently” This Year

Each winter, everyone seems to get into the giving spirit – which is great! There are a ton of ways to make the world a better place – like making an end-of-year donation to an organization you care about, volunteering at a soup kitchen.

But maybe you’re in the mood to change things up and do something different? If so, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 unconventional ways to give in this season of giving.

 Donate Your Old Phone. MTV Act and DoSomething.org are running an awesome campaign to let you donate your own cell phone and help survivors of domestic abuse.

Get Swabbed. Help save a life – all by getting your cheek swabbed and getting signed up for a bone marrow donation registry. Find out how at Gift of Life or Swab a Cheek.

Donate Your Hair. Got lovely long tresses? There are lots of organizations that let you donate your locks to make wigs for cancer patients, and other people experiencing medical hair loss. Check out these organizations to get started.

Write Someone’s BubbeCheck out Reach Out America’s pen pal program to connect with an elderly person as a pen pal. Make a new friend and make their day – and yours!

Donate Your Artistic (or Volunteering) Talent. Life Beat’s Hearts & Voices program organizes artists to perform for people living with AIDS in healthcare facilities throughout New York City. Got talent to share? Volunteer to play, sing, dance, or perform. Or, volunteer to help set up and run the events – no musical skills required.

Got another untraditional way to give? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld!

Repair The World

By Marc Shapiro
New organization brings team of full-time volunteers to Baltimore, engaging young adults in meaningful service

The State of Volunteering in North American Jewish Not-for-Profit Organizations

Repair the World is pleased to announce the results of its survey: The State of Volunteering in North American Jewish Organizations.

This is the first major assessment of the state of volunteering in the Jewish not-for-profit community. More than 200 Jewish not-for-profit organizations from across the country participated in this survey and these results establish important baselines for the field. The results also highlight opportunities for Jewish not-for-profits to make use of volunteering best practices.

The top-level findings generally support the hypothesis that volunteering programs provide more benefits for organizations that support them with intentionality and investment:

  1. The better a Jewish nonprofit organization supports its volunteers the more it benefits from them: Organizations that report increased use of the best practices for supporting volunteering find directly proportional benefits in capacity, impact and cost savings.
  2. Volunteer managers drive volunteer growth: Volunteer participation numbers are more directly  connected to having dedicated volunteer management than to any other variable, including even an organization’s size and its enthusiasm for volunteers.
  3. Training drives benefits: Having any kind of volunteer training program more than quadruples the benefit of volunteers through increased organizational capacity and impact.
  4. Jewish volunteers are tackling Education and Poverty Alleviation: Education and poverty alleviation are, by large margins, the most common social issues Jewish nonprofit organizations address through their volunteers.

Despite the strong correlation, however, between how organizations support their volunteers and how much value they get from them, the survey results illustrate that most organizations have a long way to go to achieve the additional capacity, impact and cost-savings volunteers could provide.

For Repair, these results boost our determination to provide the resources, tools and best practices to make Jewish volunteering easier, smarter and more impactful for individuals, organizations and communities.

We encourage you to take a close look at this report and use the findings to assess your organization’s current deployment of volunteers.

As always, we are eager to hear your ideas and thoughts!

Fall Fix Up young adult crew tackles Detroit’s Delray community

By Ben Falik, Special Thanks to The Jewish News

On Nov. 10, Jewish Family Service and Repair the World partnered to go where Fall Fix Up had never gone before…

 

Season of Giving: Donate Gently Used Coats To Keep Others Warm

It’s that time again: coat drive time! According to New York Cares, 90% of homeless adults need a new, warm coat each winter because they have no place to keep one over the summer months. That means, coat drives play an important role every year in making sure everyone has equal access to warm clothing during the colder months.

So dig into your closet and find any and all gently used, unwanted coats and donate! Here are a few coat drive opportunities across the country:

New York Cares’ Coat Drive: Help this New York City-based organization collect 200,000 winter coats through February 7 to help New York City families who are living in poverty keep warm.
One Warm Coat: This national organization helps individuals and local charities organize coat drives for men, women and children in need. They’ve helped distribute close to 3 million coats since 1992. Help them do even more!
Clothes4Souls: This national clothing donation organization teamed up with outdoor retailer, The North Face, this holiday season. Through December 24, bring your gently used clothing and coats to participating North Face retail locations and help give the gift of warmth.

Do you know about a local coat drive in your neighborhood or city? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.