Meet Maot Chitim YP Board Member Sammantha Marks
Sammantha Marks is a founding member of the Maot Chitim YP Board which is hosting their first ever Happy Hour at Beermiscuous in Lincoln Park. She chatted with C hiTribe about Tikkun Olam, breaking down community barriers and her involvement with Maot Chitim.
Tell us a bit about the Maot Chitim Young Professional (YP) Board
The Maot Chitim young professional group started around this time last year in 2018. We recognized that the organization was missing the opportunity to engage with Chicago’s young professionals. In addition, as the organization transforms but stays true to its original mission, it was crucial for a young professional board to have their voices heard. Many people know Maot Chitim as just the “box” event (food delivery) for the holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah. When we all recognized the need for changing how people look at Maot Chitim’s incredible work, the Board started to rally behind transforming the perspective to be focused on our commitment to Tikkun Olam year-round. We want to encourage people to see Maot Chitim outside of that setting in a warehouse packing or delivering boxes.
How did you get involved with Maot Chitim?
My involvement with Maot Chitim started with my boyfriend, Aaron Starkston. Aaron’s family has been involved with Maot Chitim for 40+ years and his Papa – Howard Warshawsky (z”l) – was a vital member of the Maot Chitim board. Papa got involved through his best friend and today, there are family members from both who sit on the board. It was around the time that Papa passed that Aaron and myself, along with Jeremy Levin and Brad Koszuta, founded the young professional board.
Getting involved in an organization like Maot Chitim was a no brainer. I was always involved in Tikkun Olam projects growing up in Los Angeles and Iowa City. My parents were quick to instill a love for doing good at an early age through the influence of their own parents. Through Maot Chitim, it is easy for someone that did not grow up in Chicago to get to know the greater Chicago Jewish community beyond the boundaries of the city. Every representation of Chicago Jewish life can be found at Maot Chitim. To me, that’s a beautiful representation of what the Chicago community stands for.
What other Jewish organizations are you involved in?
I sit on the board of AJC ACCESS Chicago. I became involved with AJC after the 2016 election when I recognized the desire to have a seat at the table and not just passively watch events unfold. While AJC has various facets that you can be involved in, regardless of the facet, the international team is focused on breaking down barriers in a compassionate and empathetic way. While I am proud of all of the work AJC does, I am especially proud to be a part of their interfaith programming. I always feel there is more I can do than being a bystander and AJC helps me do that. In addition to AJC, I am an Old Town Moishe House resident alumnus and a Moishe House Without Walls host. You can also find me at Chabad of Lincoln Park at the spectacular events that Rebbetzin Brocha Benhiyoun executes there.
Tell me a bit more about the Maot Chitim Happy Hour coming up.
On April 4th, the YP Board is hosting our fellow young professionals at Beermiscuous to celebrate volunteerism and engagement with Tikkun Olam, specifically with Maot Chitim. We will also be raising awareness for what Maot Chitim does outside of the food delivery days.
We want to recognize those people that have been involved with Maot Chitim their whole lives and are committed to Tikkun Olam outside of those four days of the years. We want to give them an opportunity to do more and thank them as well.
What does Maot Chitim do the rest of the year?
During the year, Maot Chitim is very involved with other kind of events that serve the same population that receive food for holidays. As an organization, we focus on serving those who have barriers to access resources. Sometimes, that can mean volunteering with Misericordia, an organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or attending community volunteer events at synagogues in the greater Chicagoland area.
To me, Maot Chitim is unique because it is an organization where there are Ultra-Orthodox and very Reform Jews all coming together for a common cause. It is important to be involved in a community that is breaking down barriers especially in a time when it can seem like our differences prevent us from seeing our similarities.
Packing Holiday Meals at Maot Chitim
Many people know Maot Chitim for our Super Volunteer Days where we pack perishable and non-perishable foods to deliver to Jewish families and organizations in Chicagoland area that look to our food boxes for the necessities of a holiday meal.
We are looking for volunteers for April 14th (Super Delivery Sunday)! You can wear a banana suit costume while assisting with loading over 4,000 boxes for those delivering to our recipients, you can pack perishables into boxes that already have non-perishable items or help with other tasks throughout the day. It starts at 6am and continues throughout the day as people come to pack and then deliver these packages throughout Chicagoland.
There are options: people can volunteer at the warehouse or they can sign up to deliver at the warehouse. If you live in the suburbs or the city, you can help. For families, it is also a great opportunity for parents with kids ages 7+ up.
These volunteer days are an incredible opportunity to see families come together to do good for the community. For me, I see individuals from the various communities I have come to love. Whether that is seeing members of my Moshava community that I haven’t seen in years or seeing the Chicago Moishe Houses bringing volunteers for the super early shifts on a Sunday morning, it’s unbelievable to see so many smiling faces doing crucial work to improve the lives of our fellow Chicago communities.
Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
2812 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657