Narrator Jason Bade: It all started with a simple belief. One person can truly change the world.
A single person’s vision, passion, and leadership can cause a chain reaction that makes the world a better place.
I’m Jason Bade, one of the 2010 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipients. I’m just one of 40 young leaders who have been profoundly changed by this award, just as our projects have changed the communities and the world around us.
Mrs. Diller’s vision, which began in the Bay Area eight years ago, and our projects share one common thread, the spirit of tikkun olam to repair our world.
Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipients have built soccer fields and water wells to bring people together in Africa. Donated textbooks and school supplies to financially strapped schools in California. Collected shoes so homeless children can be part of a life outside their shelters and literally led the March Against Genocide.
The list goes on through all 40 of our stories. Me, I’ve always been an environmentalist. Back in high school, I led fellow students on a charge to revamp our school’s recycling program, get an energy efficiency system installed and get solar panels installed throughout our district. I’m proud to say that both the environmental impact and student engagement still continue to this day.
With the help of the Helen Diller Family Foundation, the collective impact of all of our awards continued to transform our world in ways we could have never imagined, even if we couldn’t have imagined it, Mrs. Diller certainly did. It was her vision to provide backing and encouragement to impassion teens that brought the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards to life. Mrs. Diller’s dedication and joy are behind the program’s recent expansion beyond California’s borders to become a national endeavor.
Steven Dinkelspiel: This year, we had 15 recipients of the Diller Awards, five here in California, and 10 additional ones nationally. And it’s amazing to see the quality of commitment and spirit and ruach that these teens have brought to their lives.
Susan Steiner Saal: Choosing the final recipients is definitely a challenge but also an inspiration. Every year we go through a painstaking process of reading and discussing, and identifying those Jewish leaders who exhibit the spark of philanthropic vision that this award was intended to recognize.
Narrator Jason Bade: The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards has now honored 55 teens with awards totaling almost 2 million Mrs. Diller’s words say it best.
Helen Diller: It’s never too late, too early, or too often to give back to the community.
Narrator Jason Bade: And that’s why we’re here today to welcome 15 more young leaders into the Diller family. Let’s meet the 2014 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipients.
I’m Adena Rochelson,and I’m from Fayetteville, New York, and I’m the CEO and founder of Operation Soap Dish.
I’m Katie Hamelburg from Rockville, Maryland, and my project is Operation 18,000.
I’m Jonny Cohen from Highland Park, Illinois, and my project is Green Shields.
My name is Lillian Pravda. I’m from New York City, and my foundation is called Vision For and From Children
Jacob Gardenswartz. I’m from San Diego, California, and my project is Theater of Peace.
Morgan Davidson. I’m from Woodland Hills, California, and my project is the Ambassadors for Hope Club.
I am Josh Toch. I’m from Morgan Hill, California, just south of San Jose, and my program is Mind Before Mouth.
Zachary Certner. I’m from Morristown, New Jersey, and my project is SNAP: Special Needs Athletic Programs.
Maxine Harvey from Methuen, Massachusetts, and I am co-founder of Debbie’s Treasure Chest.
I’m Yaniv Sadka from Los Angeles, California, and my project is Teens Curing Cancer.
Paige Alenick from Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and my project is Donate A Toothbrush.
Tyler Barbee. I’m from Mill Valley, California, and my project is called Challenger Baseball and Basketball.
I’m Sammy from Millburn, New Jersey, and my project is iTold4.
My name is Yoni Kalin. I’m from Washington, DC, and my project is called The Color My World Project.
My name’s Amanda Harris, and I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, and my project is Wear Then Share.
Lillian Pravda: So I was born with a cataract and I had it removed so that I had the best chance of having vision. And then, a few years later, when I was five, I had a second surgery. And it was then that I realized that not as many children were as fortunate as I was to get care that they needed.
So when I was eight years old, I went to my ophthalmologist, and I told him I wanted to start something. And for a while, no one could really take an eight-year-old seriously and believe that, oh, this eight-year-old wants to start a foundation and help people all around the world. So it took a little bit of convincing that I was serious and I was passionate about what I wanted to do. But finally, people understood and realized, oh, this girl’s serious, and she wants to do something. And to date, Vision For and From Children has helped over 24,100 children receive the gift of sight from around the world and in the United States. In the Dominican Republic, they don’t have access to care and doctor’s offices.
There was this baby named Starling, and it was really touching because she had the same condition that I was born with cataracts. And when I brought her here, they removed them. And then, after I was playing with her and I saw her really see for the first time, she was looking at me right in the eyes before she went back to the Dominican Republic, I took her to go get glasses, and I gave her my old pairs. So when I went down to the Dominican Republic, and I saw baby Starling. I saw her wearing my glasses while she was getting her follow-up treatment.
My advice for young people and adults would be to just find something that they’re passionate about and launch their idea off of that.
Jacob Gardenswartz: Tikkun olam begins with an idea, begins with a spark. But in order to ignite that spark and turn it into true change, there needs to be an energy and an enthusiasm behind your project. Right now, bullying is a national epidemic and unfortunately, the current programs aren’t really succeeding. And this idea of why don’t we incorporate live theater and performance, it’s grown to be this large organization here in San Diego.
Zachary Certner: Starting SNAP, it’s really taught me that there are different ways to get your goal. You can go into the front doors, and when you get shut down, then you need to learn how to go into the side doors, through the basement, and all those different things. If you have that passion and if you have that drive, um, no answer will ever be good enough for you.
Morgan Davidson: In 2009, my grandma was diagnosed with lymphoma, and she was treated at the City of Hope. She was so positive and full of light, and so that really inspired me to share that with others, to show them that this can be treated and we can help make a difference. Once I learned to put people in a position where they were responsible for something, they learned to step up and feel the same passion about giving back when they felt they were personally responsible for it.
Amanda Harris: Wear Then Share aims to empower and inspire at-risk youth through dance. Kids and teens all around the country have been reaching out to me and asking how to get involved. And so, branches of Wear Then Share have been established in Maryland, Connecticut, Ohio, and New Jersey. When I first taught a dance class, I was shorter than half of the kids I was teaching, and it took a lot of confidence for me to be able to lead a class of 25 kids. I think it also takes a lot of confidence and belief in yourself to inspire others to join your cause.
Zachary Certner: The most powerful part about SNAP is that it’s a kids helping kids motto, and all of our programs are one-on-one, where one mentor will take one special needs kid throughout the entire year. It’s really powerful to see how one inspiration can fulfill not only my goals but those of so many other people. I’ve seen people come into SNAP really unsure of what they were going to do, leaving, um, as great leaders, so passionate about not only the special needs community, um, but everything that they’re doing.
Tyler Barbee: I have an autistic brother, he’s four years older than me, and even at a young age, I started seeing how Connor was not included in everything. I just, I love him a bunch and you know, it’s my responsibility to make sure that he has the same opportunities that I have. By word of mouth, it really spread, and it started off with one team in my community with 12 players, and it’s grown to three teams in all of Marin County with 60 players and about a hundred buddies. With my brother Connor, you know, this program has been less about the sports, but more about this development of his social skills and being comfortable with himself, and it’s been a really amazing experience to help all these other students overcome their own unique challenges and have their own personal progression.
Yoni Kalin: It all began with one restaurant, um, but after the first restaurant, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 20. We have hundreds of schools across the United States that lack art supplies that have trouble getting the right materials, especially art materials for kids. Why not put one and one together? This why not attitude is what drove me to create an organization beyond just recycling crayons. It allowed me to create a toolkit, and it allowed me to teach youth to get involved. Why not give something back? Leave something back for your community. L’Dor Vador, every generation, and I think that’s what’s been the most successful, is the project has grown beyond my control. Not only was I able to take Color My World nationally, but I was fortunate to bring it to other countries Donations to Haiti. Donations to Syria. Donations to Turkey. The kids cherish each crayon that they have. You could see when they’re coloring with them how much they value such a simple means of expressing themselves.
I think what Mrs. Diller is doing, her recognition of youth making a difference is incredible. It allows me to take my passion to the next level.
Amanda Harris: I wanna sincerely thank Mrs. Diller for this amazing opportunity. It’s such a beautiful gift to be able to use an award to help repair the world in some capacity, and I’m really thankful.
Jacob Gardenshwartz: Thank you so much to Mrs. Diller. I am so incredibly honored and excited to be chosen as a recipient.
Tyler Barbee: She’s creating this community of young people and empowering them to further their projects and further their social change. I think it will make the world a better place.
Morgan Davidson: To know that people out there care, and people out there notice what you are doing is an amazing feeling.
Zachary Certner: The opportunity to step back and take a look at all that I’ve done and and have other people validate what I’m doing is something that is reallypowerful.
Yoni Kalin: The world would be a much better place if everybody was Mrs. Diller.
Lillian Pravada: Mrs. Diller is the epitome of Hesed, and she just wants to help better the world in any way that she can, and she’s just a giving person.
Adena Rochelson: So I just wanna thank you so much Mrs. Diller.
Maxine Harvey: Thank you Mrs. Diller.
Jonny Cohen: Thank you Mrs. Diller.
Josh Toch: Thank you Mrs. Diller.
Katie Hamelburg: Thank you Mrs. Diller.
Paige Alenick: Thank you Mrs. Diller.
Samantha Vinik: Thank you Mrs. Diller.
Yaniv Sadka: Thank you again, Mrs. Diller and the entire community.
Narrator Jason Bade: Congratulations to the 2014 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipients. It’s true. You know, we can lead the way to make our communities, our planet, our world a better place. In fact, we’ve already begun. So thank you Mrs. Diller, for making our visions, your vision for supporting our passion to give back.