Atlanta’s Jewish youth will soon have new opportunities to address social issues and urgent community needs through meaningful service. Repair the World Atlanta provides peer-to-peer engagement, education programs and community-based service opportunities to young Jewish adults.
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Careers Services, and Hands On Atlanta are partnering to help launch Repair the World Atlanta.
“We’re excited by the warm invitation and welcome we’ve received from Atlanta’s powerful volunteer and nonprofit sectors, and the leading organizations of the Jewish community,” said David Eisner, president and CEO of Repair the World.
“Atlanta is rich with organizations with whom Repair the World Atlanta is eager to partner so that we can galvanize thousands of young Jewish adults to expand these partners’ capacity to achieve their mission and to accelerate local progress toward social equity in their communities.”
Heading the new Atlanta hub are two women who bring strong backgrounds in social justice and concern for adolescents and the environment that will serve them well as they lead a year of relationship building and programming for the nonprofit.
Lily Brent, an international social worker, is Repair the World Atlanta’s first director. She will be joined by site development fellow Rachel Bukowitz, who served as a food justice fellow with Repair the World Pittsburgh.
Understanding their experience working with underprivileged populations is a key to realizing the skills they bring to the nonprofit’s latest community in Atlanta.
Brent was a social worker for adolescents in six countries over the past eight years, including Rwanda, Niger, Bangladesh, Mongolia, and Nepal.
She focused on the international development and social service arenas, providing psychosocial support to adolescents in New York City public schools and an outpatient psychiatric clinic; a mentoring program for kids in foster care in Washington, D.C.; and a youth village in Rwanda.
She worked on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in Niger and Bangladesh and ensured that women and youth had access to development projects in Benin, Mongolia and Nepal. She also spent three years trying to reform criminal justice policy and practice in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Virginia.
What led her to Repair the World was a search for “nuanced, everyday work of community-led social justice,” according to the nonprofit’s news release.
“As the founding director for Repair the World Atlanta, I am thrilled to join other young adults in critical self-reflection, learning, volunteering with community partners, and strengthening alliances among diverse communities,” Brent said. “Atlanta’s history calls us to be bold as we grapple with the inequity. Bringing together local nonprofits and committed young people, I know that Repair the World Atlanta will make a unique contribution.”
Bukowitz concentrated on environmental studies and sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. During her undergraduate work, she helped a local nonprofit, the Homewood Children’s Village, develop a Healthy Food and Gardening Guide for residents of this Pittsburgh community who didn’t have a grocery store.
After graduating, she worked with Repair the World Pittsburgh and other nonprofits that focus on issues of food advocacy, poverty and hunger.
Brent and Bukowitz will develop programming ranging from volunteer opportunities devoted to food and education justice to Repair the World’s classic Turn the Tables Shabbat dinners and Cocktails with a Conscience series in which conversations are opened between community members about social issues, activism and action.
Repair the World Atlanta joins sister communities in Harlem, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Miami.
Atlanta’s communal leaders are excited about the opportunities Repair the World Atlanta promises to create.
“We are thrilled to be an early partner of Repair the World Atlanta,” says Jay Cranman, CEO of Hands On Atlanta. “Together, we will engage even more young people who are committed to creating positive change in our community. This is an exciting moment for our city.”
Eric Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, pointed to the community’s commitment to helping others.
“Our Atlanta Jewish community has a long history of service and we are honored to be the home to the national service movement in the Points of Light Foundation. With Repair the World’s proven model and track record in other communities, we know it will thrive here in Atlanta and provide a way for millennials to engage in service that matters in a way that aligns with our Jewish values.” ■