Interview with Skilled Volunteers for Israel founder
Project: Skilled Volunteers for Israel will establish the framework and services to match the skills and experience of professional volunteer populations with the volunteer sector in Israel.
In one sentence, tell us who you are.
A 50-something Jew passionate about Israel looking to translate that passion into opportunities for Jewish baby boomers like myself to volunteer and contribute to Israel.
What inspired you to embark on the path of an innovator?
I identified a gap in the current market vis-a-vis volunteer opportunities in Israel, and I feel strongly that the target population has much to contribute. It is critical that we capture that to the benefit of Israeli society.
What challenges do you foresee in your field?
Cultural challenge to integrate Americans (who are used to American style organizations) into Israeli organizations. The paradigm of skilled volunteering has to be embraced and accepted, but it will be a learning process to make it happen.
Who can you relate to in Jewish history (or in your field of interest)?
Henrietta Szold. She mustered "regular" people to build Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem that served critical needs and has evolved into a much larger and influential organization that has inspired, served, and impacted millions of people—benefiting Jews, Israel, and world citizens.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned from the PresenTense community?
It has re-enforced the power of community and the benefits of people sharing their personal networks to help move me and the other fellows forward on their ventures.
Who have you met at PresenTense that has made the most impact on your project?
My coach, my mentor, and Aharon because of their insights, ideas, and contacts.
What big question are you struggling with right now?
Being able to have the appropriate infrastructure to carry off what's needed in two countries.
If all goes as planned, where will your project be one year from now?
American volunteers coming to Israel sharing good experiences and wanting to come back. Non-profits thinking of new ideas for how to use them.
What do you hope to see change / to help change in your field in the next ten years?
The lessons learned will translate down to subsequent generations.
What is your vision for the future of PresenTense?
Be fruitful and multiply in many successful and impactful ventures.
Marla is just one of 16 fellows from the PresenTense Global Fellowship's Class of 2010. Read and learn about the others here.