NVHC Change (NVHC’s Social Action Committee) supports NVHC’s commitment to make our community and the world a better place (Tikkun Olam) by enabling and enhancing NVHC participation in social justice, service, giving, advocacy and learning. The committee creates opportunities for the congregation to work on social justice by:
- building relationships among congregants to create a community of people interested in social justice;
- maintaining a comprehensive and updated list of all social action activities at NVHC;
- identifying congregational social action priorities and resources; and
- partnering with social justice organizations.
Our activities have included providing warm meals and hand knitted scarves for guests of the local hypothermia shelter, packing snack bags for local children experiencing food insecurity, drawing attention to issues of poverty and homelessness, and working to provide a cleaner, greener environment. In partnership with Cornerstones (formally Reston Interfaith) and other organizations, NVHC members take action in the spirit of Tikkun Olam to make the world more habitable and compassionate for all people. NVHC Change is always looking for people who want to make a difference.
There are many ways you can get involved. Please see our NVHC Change Activity List for a detailed list of what we do. We also have list of organizations in the area that are looking for volunteers. And don’t forget that NVHC can always use your help too (please see the last page on the list for ways you can help NVHC).
Please contact the Social Action Chair (Ellen Ranard) if you would like to become involved or would like more information on our activities. SocialAction@nvhcreston.org
So that we can involve more of our NVHC community, please complete our short questionnaire. It will take less than two minutes. Please go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Y7VCD3N
NVHC is a member of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a non-partisan coalition of faith communities and civic organizations. Our association with VOICE has provided us with the opportunity to build relationships with other congregations in Northern Virginia as we work together on social justice issues in our area. We strive to protect the most vulnerable in our society — not at the level of feeding individual neighbors, but by bringing local officials and other policy-makers to the table and having consistent, persistent discussions. VOICE has helped us to organize ourselves and others to make real social change. More information on VOICE can be found on their website.
Want to learn more about how VOICE works: Why Organize?
We have worked with residents of Cameron Crescent apartments, just a five minute walk away near Lake Anne, on the issue of keeping housing affordable in Reston. With other VOICE members, we helped to organize a community walk in May 2013, raising awareness of the issue. Over 200 neighbors and supporters joined the event —
and this gathering received significant media attention, demonstrating the power of organized citizens to make change.
Our association with VOICE allows NVHC to take action on important social justice issues in our community — with a bigger voice than we would have on our own.
VOICE held an important meeting this fall, with a turnout of over 1000 at its meeting. We were proud of have over 60 members of NVHC present. At the meeting, VOICE leaders addressed concerns about education, affordable housing and safe communities with state and local elected officials.
Pictured: Rabbi Holzman and VA Attorney General speak at the October 2016 VOICE meeting; a Baptist choir opens the meeting with songs; NVHC VOICE attendees celebrate Sukkot after the meeting in Cantor Caro’s Sukkah.
Cornerstones (formerly Reston Interfaith) is a non-profit organization that provides support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare and other services in northwestern Fairfax County. More information can be found on their website.
NVHC was a founding member of Reston Interfaith (46 years ago), and we continue today to support and partner with Cornerstones in its social services mission. Andy Lacher serves as NVHC’s representative to Cornerstones. In his role as NVHC representative, Andy works with NVHC Change: Social Action to strengthen our congregation’s commitment to serving people in need and advocating for social justice.
Every year we participate in the high holiday food drive (see below) and donate food to Cornerstones’ food pantry. We have also cooked dinner for the 100 adults and children at the Embry Rucker Shelter.
Weekend Snack Bags for Children in Need
Did you know that hundreds of kids in Fairfax County go home from school on Friday knowing that their next meal will not be until they return to school Monday morning? NVHC Change is helping to fight food insecurity and fill hungry tummies through the Forest Edge Elementary School Weekend Snack Bag program. Twice a month, NVHC Change volunteers donate food and pack 225 gallon sized bags with healthy snacks to send home with children in need, right here in Reston. The needs at Forest Edge continue to rise and we need more helpers to coordinate this effort. We have had incredible support from all of you with donating food and packing bags, but we need more people “behind the scenes” helping with gathering food we need to purchase, getting the word out to the congregation, picking up bins from the school and more. The other need that we have right now is for more money. Every month we spend approximately $1,000 to purchase all the food for the TAMID students to participate in this project, but OUR FUNDS ARE RUNNING LOW! We are looking for fundraising ideas.
We are seeking food donations ALL year long. Please help to support this effort by bringing in as many food donations as you can give. If you have any questions please contact Alison. To find out how you can donate food or help pack bags email Alison Behar at ForestEdgeBackpackProgram@nvhcreston.org.
Please help to support this effort as well by sending your child in each week to Kehilat Limmud, and/or midweek Hebrew or TAMID with as many food donations as you can give. Below find a list of what the students donate (the school will let you know which grades are donating each item).
boxes of raisins
individual fruit cups or individual applesauce cups or packets
individual popcorn bags and individual packets of instant oatmeal
granola bars and gallon size ziploc bags
canned tuna, salmon, or chicken (no food with beef, pork, or gelatin)
individual trail mix bags and milk boxes
individual self-serve mac n cheese cups and peanut butter or cheese and cracker packs
Mentoring Program at Forest Edge Elementary School
Mentoring: Forest Edge Elementary School (FEES) is partnering with NVHC and other organizations to establish a Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) endorsed mentoring program (Mentor Works) for its students. NVHC members volunteer 30 minutes once-a-week to mentor a student during the student’s lunch time (between 11:00 and 1:30).
What is expected of you?
- A weekly commitment to meet with the same student at FEES for 30 minutes
- Attend a training session for mentors at FEES at the beginning of the school year
- Background screening (including fingerprinting) will be performed by FCPS.
FCPS information about mentoring is here.
Enrichment Volunteering: NVHC members volunteer weekly in a before-school enrichment class at FEES. Volunteers assist the teacher and work in small groups with kindergartners and first graders.
If you have further questions about these programs or would like to mentor a student at FEES, please contact the Social Action Chair SocialAction@nvhcreston.org
Hypothermia Shelter…Warm Food for Cold Nights
For several years, NVHC Change volunteers have supported Cornerstone’s Hypothermia Shelter by shopping for, cooking, and serving meals for the guests of the shelter. During the cold months, NVHC Change provides a warm meal once every two weeks. Other ways NVHC congregants have supported the shelter include knitting and donating homemade scarves, as well as donating monetary funds. If you can help by providing materials or serving the meals, or even by making a small donation, please contact Sandee Byrne. One congregant shared her experience volunteering with the Hypothermia Shelter: “When I first signed up to help provide meals for the hypothermia shelter, I was amazed at how many members of the NVHC are quietly involved in this endeavor, and how easy it is to participate. When I came to help cook, I was in awe at how organized it was, and how the recipes and procedures are down to a “science.” When I finally got a chance to serve the meal at the shelter, I could see how all the effort did make a difference. The recipients were very appreciative of the food and our efforts. The meal included fresh salad and fruit and home-baked bread. It is a blessing to be able to help others because it makes you appreciative of what you often take for granted.” -Judi Ornoff
We will need help for several meals from December through March, 2017-2018: If you can help by providing materials or serving the meals, or even by making a small donation, please contact Sandee via email at G14iraffe@aol.com.
High Holy Day Food Drive
This NVHC tradition has become a significant part of our High Holiday Observance. By donating the food that we do not eat on Yom Kippur, Cornerstones is better able to provide for the less fortunate in our community. Grocery bags are distributed on Rosh Hashanah and can be returned, filled with non-perishable groceries, to Yom Kippur morning services.
50 Shabbat Dinners
The Social Action Committee sponsored the Jubilee Kick Off Event, 50 Shabbat Dinners, on September 23, 2016. Together as a community, over 500 congregants celebrated Shabbat in 50 homes across Northern Virginia. SAVE THE DATE for our next Shabbat Dinners — January 12, 2018
In addition to these ongoing projects NVHC Change has:
- Brought cheer to residents of local retirement homes
- Raised awareness about the genocide in Darfur
- Promoted action for a cleaner environment
We explore social issues of interest to the community and connect social action with Jewish practices
Please contact the Social Action Chair if you would like to become involved or would like more information on our activities. SocialAction@nvhcreston.org