National Jewish social justice organization Repair the World announced it will close its Philadelphia program at the end of July.
President and CEO Cindy Greenberg and Senior Director of Communities Zack Block issued a statement about the decision in an email to the Repair the World community.
“As you know, the current pandemic is causing many organizations to have to pivot and change programming in very hard ways. Although we are in better shape than many of our peer organizations, in order to insure a strong financial future for Repair the World, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our Philadelphia Repair program at the end of this program year,” the statement read.
Repair the World’s program year began Aug. 1, 2019 and ends July 31. During that time, Repair the World Philadelphia engaged 3,750 unique participants in its community programs and mobilized volunteers for 9,588 hours of service.
“It’s definitely upsetting. I know the impact that Philly Repair has made, and I’m excited to transfer my skills to the next opportunity,” Repair the World Philadelphia Program Director Danielle Horn said.
During its seven-year tenure, Philadelphia Repair offered community engagement programs, volunteer opportunities and service and education fellowships. It also worked in close partnership with local groups like Broad Street Ministry, Jewish Relief Agency, Read By 4th, Global Citizen and more.
Horn is grateful to her partner organizations and proud of what Philadelphia Repair accomplished, particularly in the past year.
“Back in November, in cooperation with Jewish Federation’s young adult group NextGen, we engaged volunteers to cook and pack meals for homebound older adults with Cook for a Friend,” she said.
She and her staff collaborated with the Jewish Graduate Student Network for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration exploring the civil rights leader’s work in civic engagement.
Philadelphia Repair also partnered with Moishe House and Challah for Hunger to raise awareness about food insecurity on college campuses and in Philadelphia.
“We donated money to the Campus Hunger Project and wrote to representatives advocating for additional funding to the Department of Education for students experiencing food insecurity,” she said.
When the pandemic hit, Philadelphia Repair staff quickly pivoted to virtual programming and reached out to service partners to see how they could help the community.
They recruited volunteers for Jewish Federation’s Mitzvah Food Pantry and Phone a Friend, which provides friendly conversation and social contact for seniors living alone during the pandemic. They partnered with NextGen and Hadassah to write cards to 150 older adults in isolation at the Northeast Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.
Philadelphia Repair also participated in Spring Into Solidarity, a fundraiser to support Repair the World partner organizations on the front lines of COVID-19 relief efforts. The initiative raised $34,000 nationally.
“Given the current climate, we assessed that financial support would be really needed and really helpful,” Horn said.
She hopes Philadelphia Repair will leave a legacy of community engagement informed by social justice education.
“I want to stress the impact of direct engagement in partnership with the community,” she said.
Danielle Selber, assistant director of Tribe12, looks back on her collaborations with Horn and her staff fondly.
“My organization’s relationship with Repair the World Philadelphia was what partnership dreams are made of. The special sauce was the trust between our teams. Regardless of turnover with our staff or the Repair fellows that bond stayed consistently strong, carrying over year to year,” she said.
NextGen Director Max Moline is sad to see the program go.
“Dani Horn and her team have brought their passion for tikkun olam and an ability to blend hands-on volunteer work with text-based group discussions to create a rich and rewarding experience for our volunteers. Repair the World has certainly left its mark on Philadelphia, and is leaving big shoes to fill,” he said.