Milken students make a difference

Many Milken students begin their community service search unsure where to go. However, after sorting through hundreds of options, some have found personally inspiring and worthwhile ways to help the community.

Leora Wenger ’16 has already found a program that inspires and connects to her life: the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) VIP Buddy Program. Every season for the past six years, Wenger has been teaching mentally disabled children to play soccer, and she plans to continue her involvement throughout high school.

“I really hope I can do it for as long as I can because it’s something really close to me, and something really special to me,” Wenger said.

Wenger became involved in this because of several family members with mental disabilities who inspired her to help others with the same challenges.

She has already accumulated 91 hours of community service, yet plans to go far beyond her required hours for her freshmen year. She would receive a benefit from overachieving; seniors who complete high school with 180 hours of service, double the required amount, are given special recognition at their Siyum. In fact, 65-72% of Milken seniors complete 180 or more hours throughout their high school career. Wendy Ordower, Head of Service Learning, is not surprised by these numbers.

“Colleges know that it is part of our DNA to do community service and they expect it from Milken students,” Ordower said.

Ordower is constantly awed and inspired by the effort and enthusiasm Milken Students put into community service.

Ricky Toren ’15 has been involved in a program called Tomchei Shabbat since his bar mitzvah. In preparation for Shabbat, Toren packages food and other Shabbat items and delivers them to families in need.

“My dad always says that the best feeling in the world is doing someone else a favor,” Toren said. “I think this is a great example of doing someone else a favor. You’re helping another family have a Shabbat dinner and it feels amazing.”

Since first quarter’s community service fair and the various assemblies prompting students to take action, most Milken students have already made large dents in their required community service hours. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are required to fulfill 20 hours of community service, while seniors must complete 30.

Completing these hours means not only fulfilling an obligation, it means an opportunity to further explore one’s passions while giving back. When making a decision on what community service project to take part in, Ordower suggests building off of a passion or talent that you already have.

“It’s already part of your narrative, who you are. Share your strengths with someone who needs it,” Ordower said.