Members of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Hillel House and Jewish organizations all around Western Massachusetts are gearing up for UMass Hillel’s 5th Annual “Ride to Provide” to be held on Sunday, Oct. 16.
Riders participating in the award-winning fundraising bike ride can choose 9, 18, or 36 mile routes along scenic country roads. Riders will enjoy complimentary snacks at a sukkah along the way as well as a free celebratory lunch following the ride, which benefits the community service programs and environmentally friendly projects of UMass Hillel.
Rabbi Saul Perlmutter, director of UMass Hillel and a founder of the Ride to Provide, said that participants will get a lot more out of the day than a nice bike ride.
“They are going to meet a lot of great people from around the Valley; they will have the opportunity to see beautiful countryside at the peak of foliage…and they will go home feeling great that they have supported a wonderful cause and allowed our students to learn the joy of doing a mitzvah and making a difference for others,” he said.
This year a new registration fee structure for the Ride was established: families pay $100, individuals $54 and students $18.
Another new feature is an option for non-profit organizations to form teams of five or more riders. All team registration fees and funds raised can be split 50/50 between their organization and Hillel. Already, six teams from local Jewish organizations have formed: Beit Ahavah in Florence, Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton, the Jewish Community of Amherst, Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow, Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton and Temple Beth El in Springfield. Putterman said that he thinks the Ride will have a total of 10 of these teams in place by the day of the Ride.
“We are splitting the registration fee, we are splitting all of the sponsorships that they raise. It is great, really a win-wn all around,” Perlmutter said. “We wanted to get more people to come and make it a wider thing. We have always had good representation from around the Valley, but this will really get more people to come and make it even more exciting.”
The Ride to Provide raised nearly $40,000 last year and the goal is to make at least that much or more this year. These funds have enabled Hillel to send students to New Orleans every spring break since Hurricane Katrina, as well as to Uruguay, Nicaragua, Israel, and Argentina. Projects have included building a bridge to provide access to health care in rural Nicaragua, rebuilding homes and hope for victims of Hurricane Katrina, brightening the lives of orphans and elderly in Argentina, and refurbishing parks, homes, and gardens together with Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. Some 200 students have received subsidies generated by the Ride to Provide to enable them to participate in these intensive, meaningful and life-changing programs.
UMass Hillel has been selected again by the JDC to do another community service trip to Israel in January. “We are the only Hillel that they have chosen four years in a row for this trip,” Perlmutter said. “Clearly it is the Ride that has played a crucial role in that because if we didn’t have the ride we wouldn’t be able to provide the subsidies to our students to do that trip. We send 20 students a year. That trip is great because we have a lot of students who have been to Israel before who are looking for a meaningful way to get back to Israel. The JDC trip is only for students who have been to Israel previously and its not a touring trip. They spend almost their whole time in one or two communities doing volunteer work with people in the communities. That is exactly want the Ride has made it possible for us to do.”
This year, for the first time, the Ride made community service opportunities available to incoming UMass first year students even before the semester began. Through Hillel, students volunteered at the West End House Boys and Girls Club in Boston, or worked in partnership with Rebuilding Together to help residents recover from the devastation of this summer’s tornado in Springfield.
To register, visit www.umasshillel.org/ridetoprovide. Riders who register by Oct. 1 will receive a free Ride to Provide t-shirt.
Groups interested in forming teams can check the Hillel website at www.umasshillel.org/ridetoprovide for more details. All riders are eligible to win raffle prizes such as two tickets to a Red Sox game or Ride to Provide gear. By registering, each rider receives one raffle ticket. For every $100 a rider raises over the registration fee, the rider will receive an additional chance to win.