This year’s cohort of Pittsburgh fellows and senior fellows for service organization Repair the World recently completed their annual assignments, leaving the organization and those it serves the opportunity to reflect on a plethora of nonprofit work.
Between the summers of 2020 and 2021, the Repair the World Pittsburgh team “engaged the community in completing 6,972 acts of service and learning, and 10,589 hours of service and learning, across 178 programs,” the organization announced in a letter to supporters.
“This year’s fellows really embody the Jewish value of strengthening each other or hitchazkut,” said Julie Mallis, city director of Repair the World Pittsburgh. “Everyone worked together and shared their interests, experiences and skills with one another and with the community through service-learning programs. This in turn strengthened them right back. I am proud of this team, inspired and grateful as they complete their fellowship.”
Volunteering with the group was “such a pleasure,” said Alix Cramer, a family programming coordinator with Repair the World Pittsburgh. “I’m so proud that despite the immense challenges we all faced, we were able to pivot and find new ways to come together.”
The service organization’s annual fellowship benefits numerous local organizations, from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Just Harvest and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater to the PeerCorps program, Garfield Community Farm, 412 Food Rescue and Bend The Arc.
For fellow Sarah Schanwald, the program sparked more participation in Jewish life.
“I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and, although I had frequented Squirrel Hill for various Jewish events, I really hadn’t felt so connected to Pittsburgh until this year,” Schanwald told the Chronicle. “I’m always amazed by how the community rallies together for important causes and how everyone’s work intertwines. Pittsburgh is forever my home base and I’m so glad I got to work with a community that has been such a key part of my life thus far.”
Schanwald also emphasized the Jewish roots at the core of her work with Repair the World.
“Tikkun olam is at the center of everything Repair the World does — from its emphasis on food and education justice to community building and connection making,” she said. “It is a precept that keeps me grounded and focused on doing the most important work I can for those around me.”
Some fellows who are leaving the program won’t be going far.
Senior fellow Brenna Rosen has been hired as Jewish Teen Life Director at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, and fellow Elisha Serotta has become a volunteer coordinator with the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, according to Repair the World.
As for Schanwald, she’s set to get to work on a diversified vegetable and flower farm in Michigan.
“It has been amazing to see the strength of the Pittsburgh community despite the challenges that arose due to the pandemic,” she said. “I’m so thankful to have been part of such an ambitious organization and I can’t wait to continue collaborating in the future.” PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.