Mamaroneck Teens Get President’s Award for Helping Fight Hunger

Six Mamaroneck teens were among more than thirty young people who received 2010 President’s Volunteer Awards for their work with J-Teen Leadership at the Westchester-based organization’s fifth anniversary Tikkun Olam breakfast on June 13 at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale.

Each of the awardees volunteered at least 25 hours on the J-Teen Leadership Hunger and Homelessness Initiative. The Mamaroneck teens were Molly Cohen, Jessica Corbin, Hayley Girksy, Seth Girsky, Josh Goldstein, and Zach Goldstein.

J-Teen Leadership is the recipient of a Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award for more than 1000 hours of service in combating hunger and homeless. Its efforts encompass projects with Habitat for Humanity, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Food Bank for Westchester and the Afya Foundation.

The Tikkun Olam breakfast focused on J-Teen’s humanitarian-relief efforts in Haiti and their work in fighting hunger and homelessness. The event also paid tribute to Benny Wechsler, who directs a nonprofit program that feeds more than 15,000 people in the New York area.

Tikkun Olam means “repairing the world” in Hebrew, a time-honored concept in the Jewish community that inspires social action and charity to make the world a better place for all people.

For his profound sense of humanity Mr. Wechsler received J-Teen Leadership’s Lamed Vav Award, which takes its names from two Hebrew letters — vav and lamed — that together form the number 36. According to Jewish tradition, the world is perpetually sustained by 36 righteous people living on earth, their identities unknown to each other.

Mamaroneck teens who received 2010 President’s Volunteer Service Award for their work on the J-Teen Leadership Hunger and Homelessness Initiative: (front l-r) Hayley Girsky, Jessica Corbin, and Molly Cohen; (back) Seth Girsky, Zach Goldstein. Missing from photo: Josh Goldstein

As director of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty’s Kosher Food Network, Mr. Wechsler has played a pivotal role in growing the kosher food distribution program, which today provides monthly food packages to 15,000 families ― up from 400 families eleven years ago. In addition, Mr. Wechsler operates Edible Leftovers, Inc., a not-for-profit kosher food rescue program that uses a volunteer force to pick up food from weddings and other celebrations for distribution to low-income families in Rockland County and other NYC suburban areas. An inspiration to J-Teen Leadership, Mr. Wechsler has enabled the teen members to participate in hands-on food sorting programs in Westchester and Brooklyn.

J-Teen Leadership is dedicated to empowering and inspiring Jewish teens from all backgrounds with leadership training, core Jewish values and community service, so they can start contributing to the Jewish community and the world-today. Recognizing that teens are critical thinkers who can mobilize and motivate their peers, J-Teen Leadership programming is teen-led, meaningful and fun.

The President’s Award is administered by a national, independent organization, The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, established in 2003 to encourage volunteering. Awardees receive a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States.

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