Before I get to this week’s post, I want to let you know about a great opportunity for those of you in the DC area to join me on a day of service. Every year Greater DC Cares holds Servathon, an amazing event where more than 8,000 people come together to complete a variety of service projects.
This year the event is Saturday, April 16th. Trust me, after you submit your taxes on the 15th, you will be ready to do some good! I am leading a team and encourage you to sign up to join me. Click here, sign up and choose to join a team. Then when prompted with the list of available teams, scroll down to the bottom and you should find team Year of Giving! We’ll do a half-day of volunteering and then meet up with all the other service teams for a happy hour (or two)!
You will notice that this blog post shows Week 5 and 6 service days…that’s because I did two days of volunteering with this organization. Yachad is a DC organization whose mission it is to repair and rebuild lower-income neighborhoods by engaging construction and real estate professionals and hundreds of volunteers to repair housing, renovate storefronts, and create safer community spaces.
What I like about the work that Yachad does is that the volunteers work alongside the community members they are helping. It’s a very small group and they do some pretty amazing work on a very modest budget.
In order to support their work, they host a film festival called Our City Film Festival. Showcasing films that focus on our nation’s capital, the two-day event is a must see for DC residents and film enthusiasts. Saturday evening things kicked off with a launch party followed by a day of films on Sunday. I volunteered both Saturday evening and all day on Sunday.
Saturday was awesome. The kick-off was hosted at RFD, a fixture in the Gallery Place neighborhood that features hundreds of beers. The highlight of the evening was a performance by Grammy nominated recording artist Christylez Bacon, a progressive hip-hop artist who stunned audiences with his truly unique performance. Keep an eye out for him and make it a point to see him if you can.
My job there was to basically do anything that Film Festival Director Kendra Rubinfeld told me to do. Mostly I checked people’s tickets and took photographs of the evening’s festivities. It was a little embarrassing when Kendra corrected me on the pronunciation of the word Yachad. It’s pronounced “YAH hahd”, not “YAH shod” as I was walking around saying. Thank goodness she corrected me before I went around butchering the name even more!
Then the next day the event moved literally next door to the Goethe-Institut. There was fantastic line up of films and everyone that I met raved about the films and the event in general. Kendra did an amazing job. The evening wrapped up with the premier showing of TLC’s reality show DC Cupcakes. After the screening, the stars of the show – Sophie and Katherine – handed out some of their delicious cupcake creations at a champagne reception.
All in all this was a very fun two days of volunteering. I was so impressed with this small but mighty nonprofit. So many people think about helping rebuild communities when natural disasters strike like Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti, but Yachad president Roxanne Littner reminded me, “We have our own New Orleans right here!” She’s right too. There are plenty of communities in the DC area that desperately need support. I am going to work on a future Yachad construction project. If you too want to help them, click here to find out more information or drop me a note and I will let you know when I will be volunteering again with them.
I can’t say enough about this organization and the professional manner in which the film festival was run. I learned that the word Yachad means “together” in Hebrew, but based on the staff and other volunteers that pour their hearts into this organization, you could have just as easily believed it meant “love.”
If you would like to see more photos from the film festival, click here.