New App Revolutionizes the Art of Giving
Jerry Latinik, who now lives in Efrat, Israel has launched a revolutionary new mobile app to make it easier for people all over the world to do a single act of kindness. Just One Chesed (act of kindnes) now has 250 charities signed up, who submit their needs to the app, with around 2,400 volunteer users, able to click to take on the job. Ranging from walking someone’s dog, making a weekly phone call to someone living alone, or delivering a food package, Just One Chesed also allows volunteers to state what opportunities they are interested in hearing about. Connecting to google maps, it has enabled tzedakah (charitable) organizations to connect with potential volunteers, where and when they need them, unleashing serious giving power.
Originally from Chicago, Latinik, now 43, was married with three children and working in the Healthcare industry in 2011 when his business faced collapse.
“I wasn’t sure how things would come right financially,” Latinik told Aish.com, “but I believe that whatever you go through is for a reason and if God put me through that, he wanted me to grow from it.”
Acting in a way that many would seem counter-intuitive, Latinik focused on doing positive things for others to turn his own situation around.
“I learned a powerful lesson from my father when he fell very ill around 20 years ago, that hardships can be seen as opportunities. The more doctors were telling him about all the things he would not be able to do in the future, the more he persevered his way through the many obstacles, increasing his determination to overcome the challenges he faced.”
Unable to give charity in the way he used to, Latinik looked to his skills to make a difference, deciding after some thought, to organize an powerful ‘Shabbat of unity’ for his community. Bringing together seven different shuls in Chicago, the result was an incredible program with inspiring guest speakers, knock out Shabbat meals and sell out music concerts. “Something like that had never happened before. It was so uplifting with an awesome feeling of unity, that completely surpassed all of my expectations.”
One mitzvah leads to another
When Latinik was deciding where to donate the funds raised from the event, an eye-opening tour of local tzedakah organizations got him thinking. “Firstly, I was so unaware of how many unbelievable organizations there actually were, each doing something amazing for the community, providing essential support. But I also saw just how much they were in need of more volunteers.”
The idea began to take shape in Latinik’s mind for a ‘chesed broker’ to connect organizations more directly with potential volunteers, and to connect those in need with the organizations that could help them the most. “While many organizations lacked the resources to actively search for volunteers they needed, what was also so exciting was the opportunity to help activate the desire so many people have to help others and inspire so many more.”
“If one person can play a guitar, there’s another family out there that doesn’t have the money to afford a teacher. If one person can drive, there’s another person who can’t and needs help getting to a medical appointment. I often think that almost going bankrupt was the best thing that could have happened to me because it really made me realize that everyone has something valuable they can give to help another person.”
From emergency responders, Hatzola, to food redistribution service Leket and Soup kitchen Meir Panim, there is now an ever-growing list of organizations listed on the site. As his vision for Just One Chesed started to become reality, Latinik and his family made true on another dream moving to Israel and the community of Efrat, south of Jerusalem.
The Kindness App
Last year, New York native Joe Klein, who also lives in Israel, joined Latinik, helping to grow the volunteer base and partnerships with other tzedaka organizations. In August 2019, its mobile app was launched, utilizing Google Maps to alert volunteers for organizations nearby that need them, and also allowing potential volunteers the opportunity to do an act of kindness wherever and whenever suits their schedule.
With 2,400 people pledging their time and skills to over 250 tzedaka organizations, momentum is building fast.
Miri Schreiber, of the Yad Ezra V’Shulamit welfare charity in Israel said: “Thanks to the Just One Chesed app, we can always count on being able to recruit volunteers at the drop of a hat to pack food baskets for hungry children and families in Israel.”
Just One Chesed has also seen that its service can be of help in schools, with many including volunteering hours as part of their schedule. The new app now also includes newly created software to help them track and manage this.
In the midst of their plan to reach a wider audience, the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and with so many vulnerable people isolated in lockdown there was a surge of new volunteers looking for ways to help.
Just One Chesed launched ‘Project Check In’ with organizations listing people living alone, in need of a phone call once a day to check they are okay and if there’s anything they need. Hundreds of complete strangers make daily phone calls to those in need, with others delivering medical or food supplies.
“There are so many examples of how a small donation of time has made a huge difference,” Klein explained, “One elderly man in Queens NY, who was called by a volunteer, hadn’t eaten for two days. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember his address to order food.”
In another incident, a family who had been visiting New York for cancer treatment were left stranded in the city with no one they knew in the area. Just One Chesed managed to match them with a local family with a child who had the exact same condition, which was a source of great comfort and support.
Another campaign named ‘Uplift’ alleviates feelings of loneliness and despair with a string of inspiring free online virtual events. Live music concerts were tuned in to by thousands, while Israeli tour guides gave packed out zoom tours through different sites in Israel.
24k for 24k
The most recent campaign is utilizing the crowd-funding platform Charidy, not to fundraise, but to reach a target of 24,000 acts of kindness before the holiday of Shavuot in a month’s time. The number, 24,000 relates to the same number of students of Rabbi Akiva who died from a plague in these weeks around 2,000 years ago.
Latinik says, “Our goal is to make chesed exciting! Rather than setting a fundraising target to raise, families can set themselves a chesed target to reach. At the end of the day, it’s about making a difference, and in this current lockdown there is so much we can do by seeing the value of each act of kindness.”
Originally posted by Aish.com, May 3rd 2020