Instead of being an end, our Thirteen Closing Ceremony represented a new beginning!
Seeing those barmitzvah boys occupy the stage last month was indeed heart-warming. Their faces shone with pride as they shared their program experiences – what they’d learnt and their goals for future community outreach. The common thread in their speeches was gratitude and a new-found appreciation for privilege and basic comforts:
‘The Thirteen Program taught me to be grateful for the big and little things in life’. Isaac Morley
‘I feel lucky to come home every day, with food on the table and a roof over my head. Jake Golshevsky
As the afternoon progressed, it became increasingly obvious that these boys had stepped beyond the bubble, were proud of their achievements and eager for more of the ‘helper’s high’:
'I also felt empowered to do more and give more to the community.' Josh Mohr
'I also learnt that doing small things for other people can have a BIG effect.' Ben Fluxman
Another key message was the program’s diversity, reflecting that each one of us can find our niche within community outreach:
‘One month were playing basketball with people who live in housing commission flats and the next we were cooking for those in need.’ Boaz Rockman
Dean Cohen was our inspirational speaker from Flying Fox. As the name suggests, this organisation is about fun – providing social opportunities (including camps) for people with a disability. His key message was about fun too - using what you love doing as a means towards sustainable and meaningful community outreach. ‘There are lots of causes!’
Dean later commented that it is so important that we teach the young men of today to be empathetic and nurturing. We still surrender to gender stereotyping and currently we have far more female volunteers than male. The Thirteen Barmi Program is doing a great deal to shift this paradigm.
‘It made me realise how lonely some people are.’ Oliver Wells.
Help is more than just practicalities, just as life is about more than just survival.
The participants are mindful of their responsibilities going forward:
‘We do not have to have superpowers to save the world…we can’t rely on anyone but ourselves’. Myles Gaddie
‘I have learnt that the world can be a scary place. But we can make it better’ Noah Zipper
There was a healthy sense of co-operation and collaboration:
‘Thanks to my friends at Thirteen for supporting me along the way’ Kai Younger
Hopefully, this is representative of a new generation of socially conscious and capable givers, and ultimately, our future community leaders who understand the value of giving back.