Giving – and Receiving – in Houston

Posted on March 14, 2023

Sixteen Jewish public school teens from across Chicagoland spent their Presidents Day break on the ground in Houston, getting their hands dirty and making the world a better place.

The teens were on an NCSY/JSU Relief Mission, where they volunteered their time and talents – and learned and lived Jewish values.

The relief mission was generously sponsored by JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

On the mission, which was run in conjunction with Minneapolis NCSY/JSU, the teens helped rebuild homes in disaster-stricken areas, worked on an organic farm, volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, and created a pop-up cafe to feed the homeless. They also visited local tourist attractions, including the Kemah Boardwalk and Astros Stadium, and spent a meaningful Shabbat together, learning more about the Jewish values of tikkun olam and chesed while building Jewish community.

And while the teens were on the volunteering end, many report that they received more than they gave.

They have a newfound appreciation for their homes and families – and are grateful that they don’t need to worry where their next meal is coming from.

They now have a newfound appreciation for their ability to help others – and realize just how great an impact they can make as individuals and as a community.

And they now have a newfound appreciation for their Jewish heritage – and are proud to be a part of the Jewish community, both within NCSY/JSU and beyond it.

The effects of this transformative experience are still being felt, as the teens have returned home and are more grateful, more inspired and more motivated than ever to make the world a better place.