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FORDHAM IN THE BRONX

 

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STUDENTS CONNECT WITH THE BRONX AT LIFT

The Bronx can be an uplifting place.  Sometimes those break-dancers on the D train are the perfect entertainment.  One can spend hours enjoying a cappuccino and a cannoli on the sidewalks of Arthur Avenue.  And nothing brightens a day like a walk in the Botanical Garden.  But life is tough for many in the Bronx.  Knowing that, some Fordham students choose to pay it forward and raise up the borough they love by volunteering at LIFT-The Bronx.

LIFT-The Bronx gives one-on-one help to clients across New York City, connecting those in need with resources in employment, housing, legal services and public benefits.  It’s primarily a resource center, but Kelsey Reeder, FCRH ’14, says it is not like other social service organizations.

“[LIFT] really promotes empowerment,” she said. “We’re really careful to make people feel like they are valuable and cared for instead of your average social services, which give you a bunch of forms and push you on to the next person.”

Reeder says LIFT-The Bronx combats this by creating close relationships between advocate and client and working until the client’s problems are resolved, no matter how long it takes.  Reeder is LIFT’s resource development director, as well as being an advocate — LIFT’s term for its volunteers. Advocates serve clients and provide them with resources and guidance.  She joined LIFT at the beginning of her freshman year after visiting the offices with Fordham’s Urban Plunge program.  She had already heard of LIFT from a family friend who worked at the offices in Washington, D.C.

LIFT is a national organization with offices in six big cities across the country.  Founded in 1998 in New Haven, Conn., the Bronx office was opened by Fordham students in 1999 and continues to have a close relationship with the University’s students.  LIFT-The Bronx recently moved into a new office only minutes away from Rose Hill on Belmont Avenue between 186th and 187th.  Reeder says it put her right in the community.

“It’s important getting to know the community that you’re living in, the people that you’re sharing a grocery store and a park and the sidewalk with — getting to know the people that you’re sharing everything with,” she said.

Advocate Maya Deykerhoff, FCRH ’15, joined LIFT last year after learning about the organization through the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice weekly email.  She says volunteering at LIFT has been a great opportunity.

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of amazing people who live in the Bronx, work in the Bronx, and it’s cool to support them, learn from them and celebrate them,” she said.

Reeder urges Fordham students to apply at LIFT.

“It pulls you out of your zone, out of the world of Fordham, and shows you what real life in the Bronx is like,” she said.

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