I have had the honor of knowing the remarkable young man that you will be reading about in a moment for the past four or five years. We have had conversations about spirituality, energy healing and martial arts. He has friends of all ages and his ability to articulate belies his chronological age. Alexander Hill is a 13 year old, truly old soul. His parents Liora and Greg Hill are my friends and together with his twin brothers Gabe and Max, Alexander lives in suburban Baltimore. Lest you think that one person can’t make a difference, be prepared to be surprised and delighted by the impact that a loving and generous gesture can have. He is indeed a mensch; Yiddish for a good person whose actions are of note, and may indeed be exemplary.
How do you live your bliss?
Can you please tell me about your Bar Mitzvah project and how you chose it?
When you set out to do it, was there even the slightest clue that it would take on the grand proportions that it has?
Everything we do has a ripple effect. What have you seen happen as a
result of the loving and generous thing you have done?
A lot more people getting interested in Habitat. A lot more people being selfless in their actions, including Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids taking on projects instead of taking in gifts.
What messages were you given at home that helped to create the person that you are?Not a clue. There are probably very subtle things that I missed, but my subconscious picked up. My parents set a model for me by doing all the service work that they do.
How can other people make a difference in the lives of those that they may not even know?Give. Give of their time. Give money. Give of themselves.
Here is an article that ran in The Baltimore Sun about Alexander’s gift.http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-student-homebuilder-20110126,0,2261370.storyThis is the speech that Alexander offered on Sunday. You will be blown away by what he shared.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Habitat For Humanity
On Tuesday morning, ten days ago, a 17 year old boy by the name of Mitch Perlmeter died. He had a massive heart attack while getting ready for school. Mitch was the closest thing I’ve ever had to having a big brother. When I was scared, or stuck, or worried, Mitch was the one who let me know, “It’s gonna be alright.” I don’t have Mitch anymore. But I do have his steadiness still with me. There are, however, a lot of people who are living lives of desperation – on the street, or in compromised living conditions – people who do not have, and maybe have never had, someone to tell them, “It’s gonna be alright.”
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake gives people that kind of hope.
I started up with Habitat for Humanity for the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition because of my parents. My Dad was representing Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on the Board of the Interfaith Coalition. Because of this, Habitat was now on our radar and the timing was perfect because I needed to choose a service project for my Bar Mitzvah. The year before, for his Bar Mitzvah, one of my best friends, Alex Jerome, instead of getting gifts from everybody, asked his guests to bring in new toys for the kids at Kennedy Krieger. My Mom took a page from that notebook and suggested I have people donate money to Habitat instead of giving gifts for my Bar Mitzvah. I’ll admit it, I was hesitant at first. After all, what kid doesn’t want to be laden with a mountain of presents!? But I know that I live a privileged life. I have everything I need, and most of what I want. So I wanted to give somebody else the opportunity to have what you and I take for granted. Through Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition, people can and do have lives that work for them – they obtain jobs, buy their homes, live with dignity. They have self-respect.
When I met with Jayna Powell, Director of the Interfaith Coalition, I was very disappointed to find out that I couldn’t help build a house until I was sixteen. But I was glad that I could do something to help. I could raise money that was needed for a house to be built. Originally, I promised to raise $100,000 by myself, but, being twelve at the time, I didn’t have any idea how much money that really was! I failed. I did not raise the full amount needed. But I did manage to raise about $40,000. And a house is here because partners came in to help finance the remainder needed. Thanks to the Interfaith Coalition and Citigroup, not to mention all the people who planned, designed and actually built this house, Edward “Kenny” Fisher now has a home. It takes a lot of people to make this happen. It takes the partnership of everyone here and probably everyone you know to make homelessness something of the past. I didn’t raise $100,000. But I raised about $40,000. You might not raise $100,000, or even $40,000. You might just raise $20,000. Or $200. Or you might just reach into your pocket now and pull out a $20 bill. Did you know that $25 would buy a front or back entry light. $15 buys a mailbox. And $1 buys a light switch! It doesn’t matter how much you give or how much you raise. What matters is that you do it. Please give. Please ask others to give. It’s going to take all of us to let so many people know, “It’s gonna be alright.”
Mr. Fisher –
You have received a Bible from the Christian community and a Quran from the Muslim community. From my synagogue, representing the Jewish community, a tzedakah box was given to you so you could give to others like others have given to you. But I wanted to give you a gift that was just from me to you. This is a Tanakh. It is a collection of the Jewish Biblical writings both in Hebrew and in English. The reason I wanted to give you a Tanakh is because it represents the Jewish way of thinking, the foundations of our belief, what gives us our way of life. What gives me my way of life. I wanted to say to you personally, “It’s gonna be alright.” And I wanted you to have something that will always let you know, “It’s gonna be alright.” I also wanted to tell you that I’m counting on you to pass that on to others. Please. For my sake, and in honor of my friend, Mitch, but most of all for yourself, please let everyone you meet know, “It’s gonna be alright.”
Yes, Alexander it really IS gonna be alright. Thank you for reminding us. <3