Volunteers for Good in St. Petersburg

More than 1,000 people turned out for a Volunteers Fair at YESOD, the Jewish Community Home in St. Petersburg, Russia, to explore ways of giving their time to make their city a better place. Organized by YESOD staff and participants in JDC's Lehava young leadership initiative, the fair highlighted opportunities for volunteerism and social engagement by showcasing the work of 42 NGOs in the social service field.

At their colorful stands, NGO reps offered information to a steady stream of visitors eager to learn more about their agencies' programs and options for volunteer involvement. Many of the organizations offered interviews on the spot to potential volunteers.

Eight workshops on different social topics gave visitors an opportunity to hear from people and organizations with experience implementing large-scale volunteer projects. Shaun Goldstein, JDC’s 2012-13 Ralph I. Goldman Fellow (who had begun his St. Petersburg field placement just two days earlier), spoke about JDC's partnership with volunteers and NGOs in crises from Haiti to Ethiopia, where he has field experience.

The fair's popular coffee shop sold refreshments contributed by various local restaurants, raking in enough revenue to more than cover the cost of the entire event! And many people donated items to the fair’s secondhand clothing bazaar, which will benefit orphanages and homeless shelters in the city.

The Lehava Young Leadership Initiative in St. Petersburg includes five seminars over the course of a year and concludes with a trip to Israel. Graduates and current participants are involved in numerous Jewish community programs and organizations in St. Petersburg and elsewhere.

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