JFS and Lifeworks: A New Partnership Strengthening Community
Volunteers safely gather in neighborhood groups to create care packages for homeless neighbors. Photos credit: Jennifer Lazarus.
This past year, Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service launched a new partnership with Lifeworks Austin. Lifeworks is an Austin-based organization whose mission is to be a fearless advocate for youth and families seeking their path to self-sufficiency. From May 19-23, over 100 volunteers, their friends and families participated in the LifeWorks Challenge, a week of learning, advocating for and volunteering for homeless youth and their families in Austin. On the final day of the challenge, volunteers safely gathered in neighborhood groups, or in their homes to create care packages for homeless neighbors. Hundreds of care packages were made and delivered to neighbors in need throughout Austin, including residents at the Safe Alliance, the Lifeworks Emergency shelter and more. The launch of this partnership occurred during a pivotal time in Austin’s debate about public camping grounds allowing the Jewish community to serve our homeless neighbors regardless of their opinions on public camping.
Rabbi Amy Cohen, Shalom Austin Chief Social Services Office and the JFS Executive Director, believes this partnership, and more like it, will strengthen the Jewish community’s commitment to tikkun olam, repairing our world, through local organizations who are doing exceptional work. “Lifeworks and Shalom Austin JFS developed this partnership by exploring our shared missions and identifying the best ways to support individuals and families in need in Austin. Lifeworks has developed proven interventions to reduce youth homelessness, and their results are inspiring.”
Cohen believes that partnerships are the best way to engage more Jewish individuals and families in volunteering throughout Austin.
Data on Jewish young adults were captured in a study completed by Repair the World and researchers at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, entitled Volunteering + Values A REPAIR THE WORLD Report on Jewish Young Adults. According to the study, “A vast majority of Jewish young adults say it does not matter if they volunteer with a Jewish or non-Jewish organization. Instead, the reasons they give for choosing any volunteer option center on whether the activity involved a cause or issue that is personally meaningful for them.”
Volunteers safely gather in neighborhood groups to create care packages for homeless neighbors. Credit: Samantha Friedman.
Cohen explained that data like this inspires JFS’ vision for creating more volunteering opportunities throughout the greater Austin community for the Jewish community.
Shalom Austin Women’s Philanthropy and Volunteer Director Arielle Levy explained, “Volunteers were empowered to collaborate with Shalom Austin and LifeWorks, encourage their friends to participate and have a larger impact and reach in supporting the greater homeless community in Austin.”
Shalom Austin JFS is thrilled to be launching more partnership opportunities this fall with Generation SERVE, Drive a Senior ATX and more. Cohen shares, “We don’t have to look very far to find organizations in Austin who are serving our greater community in extraordinary ways. We are excited to increase their impact while also engaging more Jews in communal life.”
To read the full Repair the World Study, visit https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255484136_Volunteering_Values_A_REPAIR_THE_WORLD_Report_on_Jewish_Young_Adults
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