Members of the Junior class traveled to Portland last week for a fantastic community service learning experience. Organized by Tivnu, the program really brought our school’s values of tikkun olam, tzedek (justice), and community to life in a meaningful way . Gianni Mizrahi explains, “The activities were small examples of ways that we could help make a tangible difference in someone else’s life. Working together to build boxes, collect rocks, and build a fence is something that we can see right away.” The students’ efforts focused on three projects: Agape Village, Habitat for Humanity, and the Rebuilding Center.
Agape Village is a village of tiny houses to assist Portland’s houseless community get a roof over their heads so they focus on finding a permanent housing placement. Our students worked on building the fence to define the boundaries of the community, a step necessary in cultivating a sense of belonging and feeling at home.
After working at Agape Village, the students toured Portland’s first tiny house village and met with a resident. While working with Habitat for Humanity, the students moved and organized lumber as well as framed four walls of a house. Learning about the finances of Habitat was eye-opening for the students.
The third service project was working with an organization called the Rebuilding Center whose focus is on deconstruction so that materials from homes that would otherwise be demolished can be resold at a discounted price. Each project was unique and helped the students see the results of their work first hand.
A highlight of the trip for many of the students was meeting with houseless or formerly houseless teens who work on a project called Outside the Frame. The teens learn how to make short films that teach either about their own houseless journey or about an issue the homeless population faces. This program teaches houseless teens skills while paying them an hourly wage, both necessary for finding and sustaining permanent housing. A dialogue with three teens from the program, in conjunction with the Tivnu gap year students, helped our students see the issue of teen homelessness first hand.