Written by Lila Goldstein

Greeting from Atlanta, Georgia! Since June 21st, the 14 students on the Machon Mitzvah Corps (MMC) program have gathered with a goal of service. From volunteering in community projects to studying social justice, the Machon have learned valuable lessons that they will take to Camp Coleman and beyond.

Machon Mitzvah Corps’ main volunteer activity is at Camp Best Friends, a day camp serving elementary aged children from an economically disadvantaged area in Atlanta. In groups of two or three, MMC participants are assigned to gender and age cohorts, where they serve as co-counselors, program leaders, and playmates for the kids. However, Camp Best Friends is a part of a unique community that faces several challenges, many of which are not faced by Camp Coleman. In order to best understand the environment in which Camp Best Friends exists, MMC teamed up with several nonprofit agencies to learn about poverty, diversity, and educational justice. Until July 5th, MMC participants will continue to make a positive impact on Camp Best Friends, an experience that is much more than just a service project.

When not volunteering at Camp Best Friends, the Machon interact with community leaders across Atlanta to visit different service projects. Two charitable sites, Historic Westside Gardens and Browns Mill Forest, both serve as communal garden projects in urban neighborhoods. Meeting the people that run and staff these initiatives, MMC participants were able to learn about food deserts and privilege, as well as how individuals create and organize nonprofit organizations.

Through all of these activities, the Machon have remembered their core Jewish values and used them to make a difference. Collaborating with Rabbis from around the Atlanta area, the MMC participants have gotten to discuss Jewish stories and study the roots of Jewish activism, using the valuable information they learned to be the best Machon they could be.