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Dana Reed — Turning Time on Her Hands Into Handiwork for Others
Arnie Kamrin — Providing Care Kits to Families-in-Need with Children
Leslie Murveit — The Mask-e-teers
Steve Goodman — Online Survey Provides Critical Data
Avi Kaye — The Protector
Steve Levin — Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Dana Reed — Turning Time on Her Hands Into Handiwork for Others

Written by Shelley Hebert; Nominated by Rabbi Jonathan Prosnit

When 13-year-old Dana Reed found herself stuck at home just weeks after celebrating her Bat Mitzvah at Beth Am, she reached for a crochet hook to help pass the time. Dana had first learned to crochet when she was just five or six years old. Now with plenty of time on her hands, she soon found a way to turn her handiwork — and the unexpected availability of time — into an opportunity to help others.

Dana realized that she was producing more colorful crocheted blankets than her family could use. She considered donating her creations to an assisted living facility, but learned that this type of donation was not possible due to concerns about COVID-19. So instead Dana turned to Rabbi Jon Prosnit, who had officiated at her Bat Mitzvah, to see if he had any ideas.  

Rabbi Prosnit suggested that Dana’s beautiful blankets would be welcome at LifeMoves, a nonprofit organization that assists families who are experiencing homelessness. Beth Am volunteers had been serving a monthly breakfast at a LifeMoves shelter in San Mateo prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rabbi Prosnit recognized that now even more families would urgently need its support. In addition to physical warmth, a beautiful handmade blanket could offer the warmth of caring and compassion.

Past Beth Am Board President and LifeMoves CEO Bruce Ives has offered to deliver Dana’s blankets to LifeMoves when she is ready.  In the meantime, she has already completed two large ones, half a dozen smaller blankets for babies or toddlers to cuddle, as well as an assortment of colorful hats. More yarn has been ordered and Dana plans to keep going, adding baby caps to her inventory.  

For anyone else inspired to do something similar, Dana offers valuable advice.  “Remember to have fun with it,” she says. “It’s something you want to do, not something you have to do.”  

There is a teaching that the Hebrew letter “vav” looks like a crochet hook and that its meaning of “and” expresses connection throughout the Torah. Dana’s generous spirit and outreach to help others in need also shows that in her hands, a crochet hook has turned into a “vav.”

Arnie Kamrin — Providing Care Kits to Families-in-Need with Children

Written by Shelley Hebert; Nominated by Barbara August and Francine Ruvolo

As schools in the San Jose area shut down, thousands of low-income families also were without a critical source of meals for their children. In addition, the sudden huge increase in lost jobs and temporary layoffs among working parents greatly increased the need for urgent action to ensure access to food.

Arnie Kamrin is among those responding through a grassroots effort known as SJ SHIP Kits, which is operating out of the San Jose Amory. With the goal of assisting families-in-need with children from ages six to twelve, the group provides “care kits” to help with everyday needs. The kits include food, health items (such as hand sanitizer, thermometer and toilet paper), as well as games and puzzles for children. Each costs about $50.00 to produce.

“We have, to date, distributed over 5,000 kits in partnership with Hunger at Home,” Arnie said. He reported that there was a line of people two miles long waiting to receive a combination of groceries, prepared meals and the SHIP Kits. The goal is to increase the production of care kits to 6,500 per week.

The collaborative effort is bringing together diverse partners ranging from professional sports teams (San Jose Giants, San Francisco Giants, San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose Sharks) to area businesses (Adobe, Zellee, Sysco, Clif Bar), educational institutions (San Jose State University), funders (Ella Fitzgerald Foundation) and many others. SJ SHIP Kits is a nonprofit organization staffed entirely by volunteers.  “I am so grateful to be part of this project,” said Arnie.

In addition to installing refrigeration to enable storage and distribution of unused produce that would otherwise go to waste, the group is exploring ways to work with the City of San Jose and County of Santa Clara.  It hopes to support training of laid-off hourly workers with skills that would enable them to assist in testing and tracing of individuals who might become infected by COVID-19 after the current shelter-in-place order is lifted.

To learn more about SJ SHIP Kits or donate, visit sjshipkits.com. Volunteers are needed and can sign up online. The SJ SHIP mission is to provide emotional, financial and nutritional support for Santa Clara County community members whose livelihood has been negatively impacted by the state-wide Shelter in Place mandate.

Leslie Murveit — The Mask-e-teers

Written by Shelley Hebert; Nominated by Liz Vaisben

When Leslie Murveit got an email from a neighbor who was planning to make face coverings and give them to a hospital, she knew right away that she wanted to help. Not knowing how to sew, however, she quickly thought of someone else who did. Leslie’s 84-year-old friend Anita Dippery is a master quilter who was also eager to put her skills to use in these challenging times. Anita began sewing cloth face coverings at the rate of four finished items per hour.

The two later learned that cloth face coverings do not meet the standards required for hospital personnel, so Leslie realized they needed to find others who could benefit from their efforts. Another friend who is a nurse practitioner suggested that nursing homes could use this type of face covering to help limit the spread of infection. Alisa Yee quickly joined Leslie and Anita, and together they became the Three Mask-e-teers. Leslie delivers supplies that have been donated or purchased by others to Anita, picks up the finished face coverings (183 so far), packages them for shipping using online postage labels, and sends them off to Alisa, who then distributes where the face coverings are needed.

Recognizing that there could be members of the Beth Am community who would also want to make face coverings, and congregants who need them, Leslie then reached out through the newsletter. Beth Am Board member Bob Frankle saw the announcement and was eager to see Leslie’s idea implemented, with greater visibility for the project.  

Beth Am volunteers provide their own materials and are given several CDC-approved pattern options to select which style they want to make. So far, Nancy Cavillones, Jenn Bernat, Deborah Lundahl, and Nancy Rudin have signed up to sew, as well as Leslie’s friend Patti Price. Nearly all the 19 requests received to date from congregants for the washable cloth face coverings have been filled, thanks to their efforts.  Leslie also has a limited supply of one-time paper masks available for congregants.

For more information, visit betham.org/face-coverings, or email facecoverings@betham.org if you want to help. Thank you!

Steve Goodman — Online Survey Provides Critical Data

Written by Shelley Hebert

Steve Goodman, MD, PhD, is among the epidemiologists and data scientists at Stanford Medicine who have developed a national study to detect COVID-19 surges in real time and inform response efforts. Launched on April 2, the Stanford Medicine National Daily Health Survey gathers initial data using an online tool that asks participants to respond to brief questions about their health and whether they are experiencing any symptoms.

Participation offers people a way to become part of efforts to fight the pandemic on an opt-in basis, joining with others to share invaluable real-time data locally and nationwide. The sign-up process takes just two to three minutes. After that, participants receive a daily email prompt with a link that takes them directly to a friendly chatbot, who asks questions about symptoms that take only seconds to respond to.  Efforts are underway to translate the survey into multiple languages. The research team is analyzing data as it comes in, eventually combining it with local testing results.

Steve is Associate Dean of Clinical and Translational Research and Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, and Medicine at Stanford School of Medicine.

In addition to his medical and research expertise, he is an accomplished baritone who has delighted Beth Am congregants with his theatrical performances in the popular annual Purim shpiel. Steve serves on the Hillel at Stanford Board of Directors and is a treasured co-leader of prayers and singing at the Reform High Holiday services on campus.

Learn more about the Stanford Medicine National Daily Health Survey. To sign up as a participant, please visit the survey page.

Avi Kaye — The Protector

This story first appeared in Hillel Heroes, a news blog about Hillel alumni on the frontlines of fighting the coronavirus:

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am taking a leave of absence from school to work as an EMT in Colorado at DispatchHealth. The company serves as a mobile urgent care, providing medical assistance in people’s homes. We treat a wide breadth of conditions, including infections, lacerations, dehydration, breathing difficulties and much more. Our goal is to help individuals in the comfort of their own residences to avoid potential disease exposure in hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers. With increased risk from COVID-19 infection, all teams are required to wear masks for the duration of the shift and upgrade personal protective equipment for each patient contact to keep our patients, partners and ourselves as safe as possible.

“In the medical environment, I find myself consistently relying on the skills and values I have honed as a part of the community at Hillel at Stanford. In both my leadership roles at Hillel and patient care responsibilities, I require a high degree of communication, a logical, goal-oriented mindset, critical thinking skills, and most importantly, a sense of empathy. In every healthcare situation, I am guided by the Talmud teaching, “anyone who saves a life is as if he/she saved the entire world” (Sanhedrin 4:5). Each life is sacred, and I am humbled to have a small part in ensuring our society protects as many lives as possible.”

Avi Kaye is the grandson of Beth Am members Tobye and Ron (z"l) Kaye and an emergency medical technician at DispatchHealth in Denver, Colorado. He will return to Stanford University to obtain his degree in human biology after the coronavirus pandemic.

Steve Levin — Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Written by Shelley Hebert

As Portola Valley resident Steve Levin watched the beginnings of the coronavirus emergency unfold, he realized that he and his neighbors already had an effective tool that could help at this critical time.  Known as “PVForum,” it is a listserv connecting thousands of area residents through a lively and ongoing exchange of email messages. On PVForum, neighbors publicize events, seek and offer advice about resources, post items for sale and even find lost pets.  PVForum is a highly trusted source and, as Steve describes it, “the glue of the community.”

Steve recognized that this existing communications infrastructure could be used to help neighbors help each other as they shelter-in-place.  Together with community volunteers Rebecca Flynn and Jane Wilson, he helped develop and launch PVCares, a new service to match vulnerable neighbors needing help with others wanting to assist them.

PV Cares has specific safety guidelines to ensure that volunteers are healthy and don’t place themselves or their neighbors at greater risk of contagion as they help with shopping or errands. Volunteers provide a range of other assistance, too, such as help with computer issues, arranging home repairs, and providing emotional support and empathy by phone.

So far 85 volunteers have registered through PVCares.  In addition to benefitting vulnerable neighbors, their willingness to step up impacts the whole community.  “Everyone feels better knowing that they live in a place where people want to help each other,” Steve said.  Drawing on his professional expertise in coaching leaders, building teams and designing organizational change, he knows that when people see those around them engaging in positive behaviors, it quickly becomes the community norm of “that’s what we do around here.”  Thanks to Steve’s initiative, the glue of the Portola Valley community is becoming even stronger.

Sat, May 30 2020 7 Sivan 5780