AMHERST, MA – The phrase “community service” has acquired a number of less-than-pleasant connotations: responsibility, duty, even drudgery. But according to Aaron Kagan, community service is fun. Kagan is the coordinator of JVCorps (Jewish Volunteer Corps), a program sponsored by Jewish Teens of the Valley. JVCorps organizes teen volunteers to prepare, serve, and clean up a meal for visitors to the Amherst Survival Center.
“JVCorps was the program that first introduced me to community service, and from there I was hooked,” says Zak Tobin, a high school senior who participated in the program last year and who will serve as a madrich (assistant) again this year. Teens in 11th or 12th grade who have volunteered in the program serve as madrichim with volunteer parents each month. The madrichim attend trainings throughout the year to learn skills so that they can teach the other teens. Tobin says “It’s the ideal place to begin your community service experience.”
JVCorps is a unique way for teens to connect with their Judaism. The program embodies a number of Jewish values, including tikun olam/repairing the world, chesed/lovingkindess, and tzedakah, often translated as “charity” or “righteousness.” An important aspect of JVCorps is that it gives teens an opportunity to interact with and learn from people with different life experiences and people of different faiths. And, Kagan adds, “I want the teens to have fun.”
Teens can visitjewishteen programming.eventbrite.com to sign up to volunteer or “Sponsor a Meal” by donating money or food towards the meal that will be served at the Amherst Survival Center.
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