Young people, each on the journey to becoming a “mensch.”
Each of the approximately 300 students enrolled at IASA could share a remarkable account of how they were transformed by their pursuit of Excellence, Leadership and Community Service. The following true story is one of many that could be told.
Going confidently where many are reluctant to go.
The Swedish Village is a residential and working space for adults with severe cognitive disabilities. The profound handicaps its residents live with make it a very difficult place to visit.
In 2015, our Crown Community Service Program (CCSP) staff began a conversation with the Swedish Village about the possibility of our students volunteering there. Village administrators questioned whether high school students had the maturity and empathy required to make a positive contribution to the residents.
A very encouraging start.
A pilot program involving four of our students delivered outstanding results. The staff of the Village was unanimous in their praise for the work our students accomplished.
In 2016, the program was doubled and eight of our students participated, the results again surpassing expectations. In 2017 the program redoubled, with 16 students volunteering.
Developing relationships with residents.
The students provide welcome relief from the isolation residents experience. IASA students join residents in arts and crafts, day trips, music, singing and group conversations, which foster self-expression and communication.
Two dedicated students received national recognition. Download the PDF of their amazing story.
Expanding the size and scope.
In 2017, a number of students who were not part of the regular Village volunteers thought the residents would benefit from celebrating various holidays.
They brought their idea to the staff at the Village, which was utterly amazed at the perceptiveness and understanding our students have for the residents. They enthusiastically approved our students’ plan, which began with a simple Kabalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) that the residents wholly enjoyed.
Service to others—the most important pillar.
Assisting someone who truly needs your help is a remarkable experience. You have to do it to understand it, and once our students offer themselves to others, they look forward to doing it again and again. Annually, approximately 40% of our graduates choose to perform a year of public service (national average = 2.8%) prior to and in addition to their army service.