#MakeItHappen Project in Action: Building Homes, Serving Communities

  • Team Schusterman

August 13, 2014

Jaycee Greenblatt is very engaged in the Dallas Jewish community, and currently serves on the Young Adult Division board of the Jewish Federation, on JDC Entwine’s planning committee and is a Moishe House resident. She is also very passionate about the work of Dallas Habitat (Habitat for Humanity), as well as creating a unified Jewish community.

Jaycee's idea to bring together the Jewish young adult community in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to work with the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity was recently chosen to receive a $1,000 #MakeItHappen micro grant! #MakeItHappen asked young Jews from around the world to submit ideas for what they would do to create a meaningful experience in their Jewish communities. With the support of several community partners, more than 150 ideas were selected to receive a $1k or $5k micro grant to help them go from dream to reality! 

Describe your #MakeItHappen project idea and how it came to life.  

My #MakeItHappen project had two goals. 1. Engage the Dallas-Fort Worth Jewish young adult community in the community-wide Habitat build project and 2. Host an inclusive community fair, "Spring Into Action" using Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity as the vehicle to connect our Jewish faith to social action.

The project has created a unique opportunity for young adults to work alongside a broad segment of the Dallas Jewish community. It came to life on April 13th when the first day of building took place and then consecutively thereafter until Sunday June 29th. Walls were raised, skills were learned and bonds were formed among the Jewish community in Dallas.  

The "Spring Into Action" fair was one of the few Sundays that it did not rain, and it was a gorgeous day filled with food, fun and fitness. It took many hands  and many hours of planning to make it happen and on Sunday, June 29th the home we built together was complete!

What was your favorite moment from your #MakeItHappen event?  

My favorite moment during the build was the lunch and learns. To me, this tied the community service experience all together. During the educational program, one of the six participating rabbis shared with us the importance of tzedakah (justice) and mitzvah (acts of kindness). After a hard day of volunteering it was a well-received discussion that allowed all participants, from all walks of Jewish life to connect to each other and to our own Jewish identity.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in putting your idea into action and how did you overcome this?  

The greatest challenge was that the original committee dedicated to this fair changed dramatically in the mid-Spring. The initial ideas developed by one group of people had to be implemented by another, which caused challenges because the initial ownership was lost.

If you could plan a follow up event, what would it look like and why?  

The follow up event would be a continuation of the “Building Together” project. It would look very similarly to this build (hopefully with less rain), but it would be a full house instead of a half house sponsorship, and it would engage more clergy and community members. In addition, I would like to see more of the Orthodox community involved. We would start looking at funding earlier on, build a new committee (to enable more people to have leadership opportunities) and have the schedule planned out at least six months to a year in advanced.  

This project has been instrumental in bridging two communities of Dallas and was a HUGE success. It opened people’s eyes to housing needs of Dallas and brought the Greater Dallas Jewish community together to support the needs of the  Dallas community at large.

What does your future hold? 

Professionally, I  am now a full time employee with Moishe House!! I am the Mid-Western Regional Director overseeing 12 houses in the region. In this role, I help supervise 45 community engagers who are eager, excited and committed to creating meaningful programming for their peers, all with the goal of  building community, meaningful bonds among peers and the Jewish identity of 20 somethings.    

If you could have invited anyone from history to your event, who would it have been and why?  

I would invite Martin Luther King Jr. so he could see his vision of the beloved community realized. Dr. King’s "Beloved Community" is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

If you could invent a new Jewish holiday, what would it celebrate and when would it occur?  

This is hard to answer, because I can't think of anything not currently celebrated by the Jewish people. My new Jewish holiday would occur during the summer (because it is my favorite time of year) and it would celebrate innovation, creativeness, entrepreneurship and fearless experimentation.  

Ideas like #MakeItHappen are changing the landscape of how Jews today become connected and get linked back to their roots and identity. In the  fast-paced and ever-changing world in which we live, I think it would be fun to celebrate those who transform our world, not  just by fulfilling unmet needs but by tapping into unique opportunities that enhance our world in ways most could never imagine.  

Learn more about Jaycee's idea here!

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.