Helen Diller: It’s never too late, too early or too often to give back to the community.
Sarah Van Zanten: Speaking out or all these different projects everyone’s doing, we’re all trying to make a difference in our own way.
Eric Heimark: When we truly believe in something, we’re capable of doing it regardless of what others may tell us.
Barbara Rosenberg: Young people have a fresh take on a lot of the problems of the world. They’re not hindered by what if or if I stumble. The Diller tikkun olam concept is that there are young people who have wonderful ideas for mending a broken world.
Helen Diller: And we only choose five, but the five get $36,000 for each one. It’s either for college or for whatever they’re going to do for their program, for the wellbeing of the world.
Shelby Lane: I have raised over $32,000 so far in over two years of activism.
Fred Scarf: In honor of my best friend Shiri Gumbiner, who passed away at the age of 16, I’ve started a nonprofit foundation to raise money and awareness for, to find a cure for the cancer that killed her.
Ronit Abramson: My project is a collection of different efforts all aimed at helping the environment and bettering the world.
Eric Heimark: Helped establish school groups in the United Kingdom and the United States and volunteered for five summers in the rural Messai Mara of Kenya and one summer in India.
Sarah Van Zanten: Four years ago, I was in an abusive relationship, and since then, I’ve been speaking out to try and help as many people as possible.
Daniel Sokatch: In the Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers, uh, it’s written that it’s not up to any one of us to complete the task of repairing the world, of doing tikkun olam, but none of us are free from refraining and participating in this work.
Ronit Abramson: Tikkun olam is fixing the world, and I really feel that protecting our environment is a literal fixing of the world. With the grant from, from the Diller family, I hope to sponsor other students from around the world to attend Polar Bears International Leadership camp, which is what first sent me to, uh, the Arctic and what first got me involved in climate change. I also wanna provide grants for students like myself and younger students to pursue scientific research because that really has been, has been a life-changing experience, is getting involved in the scientific community.
Social activism is very important, especially as a teenager. I think that getting involved now is what’s gonna keep me involved in the future.
Eric Heimark: During the first 10 years of my life, I moved over eight times between different countries and continents. And because I was exposed to so many different cultures and so many different poverty levels, I became interested in global development and in children’s rights. Volunteering in Kenya and India really made me feel like I can make a difference in this world. It provided me with inspiration to go out in my community and take action.
One of the things we do at Free the Children is we work with local school groups to collect health and school kits for kids in developing nations. These school kits contain basic necessities, crayons, paper, scissors, pencils. A small amount of money can have a huge impact in this world.
Shelby Lane: Upon hearing that for just $30, you could help save a family by providing two solar-powered stoves acting as a rape prevention project, it really, it reached out to me.
This is the $10 and under pile and then this has all been donated here. And these are some of the pieces that I’ve personally made, and a hundred percent goes to the Solar Cooker project of Jewish World Watch, which acts as a rape prevention project for the families in the Darfur refugee camps. And it obviously the need for them to leave the protection of the camps, which is when they’re raped and beaten.
The women get this cardboard, and they actually, as I said, they manufacture these themselves. So they cut the cardboard, they put on this shiny material which can then be directed to the sun. So it’s as easy as this. You just put it through the slits that they will have made, and then you can put the pot in the center, and this is where they will have their food inside here.
In life, people are always very busy. People have other passions, they have sports, they have other commitments at school, that is their calling. And I just, I believe that when I heard about this project and I came up with this idea, it was, it was as if it was my calling.
Helen Diller: And here these people, I could just love all of them. It’s so wonderful the way they think at that age. It’s just mind-boggling. As I said, it’s amazing.
Fred Scarf: The same joy that teens get from playing video games or television is the same joy I get out of leading the Shiri Foundation. Osteosarcoma is a rare disease. It’s a rare cancer and it’s even been nicknamed the Orphan Disease just cuz it gets so little funding and such little attention. Through all of our efforts with media and raising awareness, we’ve educated over a million people.
When I started the Shiri Foundation, I realized that there, that there are gonna be other teens like Shiri out there who may not have the opportunity to go to proms. So, what we do is we actually organize proms for teens who may not live long enough to attend their own prom. I definitely think she would be proud. I think if she knew what I was doing today and just, what I’ve done in her honor, she would say, good job.
Sarah Van Zanten: I’ve been in People Magazine on the Today Show, local news, talking to high schools, visiting Girl Scout troops, trying to inform and teach all these teenagers about the issue and that they deserve better.
Newscaster: Sarah, you’re speaking out about this now. This happened to you in high school. It’s been about three years or so since you were in an abusive relationship. Why are you talking about this now?
Sarah Van Zanten: We were at a party, um, he was very drunk, um, kicked me as hard as he possibly could. Um, I got two bruised ribs, flew across the room, hit my head on the wall, and was knocked unconscious.
I did research and read things from the Torah and read about how God says that you should treat your neighbor as yourself. And that really hit it home to me, and I felt like I needed to make a difference in the Jewish community as well as the world.
Daniel Sokatch: Every single one of us not only can repair the world, but we have to repair the world. It’s our obligation as Jews and as human beings.
Ronit Abramson: It actually took until I started applying for this award that for me to realize how much my being Jewish has impacted my environmental concerns.
Shelby Lane: I definitely feel that as a Jew in a position of genocide, I have a duty and a responsibility to give back.
Barbara Rosenberg: The problems of the world are growing exponentially, and any group that has a new approach or a new commitment to these problems, I believe can be a leader in many areas.
Helen Diller: The adults should be as good as these teens for a role model, because you see many adults that don’t think as deep as these young people.
Ronit Abramson: You know, we, we think of certain people as making more of a difference, but if you look deep at it, it’s because of their enthusiasm and their passion for whatever they’re speaking about. And if any, if, if anybody wants to make a difference, they have to pick up that passion and run with it.
Sarah Van Zanten: It’s very important to realize that we’re the next generation, and this is what we’re gonna have to live with.