April 7, 2020

My family is not doing puzzles together.

A friend commented that we didn’t do puzzles before the COVID-19 pandemic, so why the hell did I think that we would be doing it now? Good point!

We are not spending a lot of time together, although we are together all day, every day.

A different friend pointed out that my teenagers are teenagers. They really do not want to be with us at all.

Now we are near them all the time.

“Give them a break,” she said.

We also are not fighting too much, and we are not in need of toilet paper any more. I guess that’s a good thing.

There are so many things that are NOT happening.

My daughter’s service trip to Senegal, programs we were supposed to initiate, and so much more.

In the midst of all the things are not happening,

I’m desperately trying to think about what IS happening.

In a recent Zoom class one of my students told me,

“I got out of jail, to go back into jail.”

I said firmly, “Dude, you are not in jail right now! You have a refrigerator filled with food. You have your family around you. You can watch TV or be on the phone. You are NOT in jail. If anything, you can do this better than any of us!”

I am NOT a lot of things I want to be. But I AM other things.

My family is not singing funny songs and posting them, but we are doing other things together. We ARE doing good deeds for people in need. I am not as loving as I should be, but I am trying to be loving enough.

In our virtual classes we ask our students,

“What is something new you learned about yourself during the quarantine?”

People have told us they learned that they were neat freaks or that they’re addicted to YouTube.

They love their family.

They hate their family.

They are blessed.

They are so fucked.

We are. We are not.

We are what we are.

I called the lock up facility we were supposed to start teaching at a few weeks ago.

“What can I do?” I ask.

They are not allowing any visitors.

They are not allowing any programs from outside.

The school is not allowed to be open.

No access to computers or telephones.

My heart broke.

A young man got on the phone,

“Ms., anything you send us is more than we have.”

Good thing we were on the phone because the tears started to pour down my checks.

“I got you,” I said, “Give me a week.”

I hung up and sobbed at my desk.

I thought of all the things I am not doing, and how lucky I am for what I can do.

I thought about all the things these kids cannot do, and how this is a double, triple lock up for them.

I posted a list of action items that WE CAN do for these kids.

I am putting them in this blog, because I think that in the sea of things that we are NOT doing, there are a lot of things that we CAN do.

Will you join me?

Here is what we are asking:

  1. Download movies onto a USB stick, as there is no access to Netflix inside the walls. Please, no gang related movies. Think comedy, scary, Sci-Fi movies. We ask that you include a list of the movies that are on the USB.
  2. Board games, dominoes, chess, cards. ANYTHING new or used that you think these youth would enjoy.
  3. Markers, crayons, watercolors, coloring books. ANY/ALL art supplies.
  4. Go to this Amazon wish list and purchase anything/everything.
  5. Do you have a short, inspirational story to share, something interesting that they can learn from? Fill out the text below and e-mail your story to: theadvotstoryproject@theadvotproject.org

We will print it out and send it to them.

Dear friend,

This is a story I love because ______________.
I heard it (where? /when? ______________.)

The Story

Ask a reflective question for them to answer or think about.

You can mail or drop off these items at our office at the Westside JCC. They are open Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 4:00pm. Please note, the JCC will be closed April 9,10,15,16 in observance of Passover.

Please mark the box/bag clearly: FOR THE ADVOT PROJECT

We will sanitize, repack and send the items to the LA County probation lock up facilities.

The Westside JCC
℅ The Advot Project
5870 West Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Happy Passover to those celebrating!

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Stay safe and healthy.

Naomi Ackerman is a Mom, activist, writer, performer, and the founder and Executive Director of The Advot (ripple) Project a registered 501(c)3 that uses theatre and the arts to empower youth at risk to live their best life.

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