Posted by Hannah Hiam
As a closing to my senior year, my school, Gann Academy, gives students the opportunity to gain experience in a particular occupation that may help their future goals or develop their interests. As a granddaughter and great granddaughter of innocent people affected by World War II and anti-Semitic oppression, I grew up hearing stories about the painful adversities my family faced in Soviet Russia. Additionally, I feel an obligation to address the needs of European senior survivors in my community.
For six weeks I helped the hardworking team of Schechter Holocaust Services, who devote their utmost attention and support to those who have been through humanity’s worst era. I assisted Café Hakalah in late April, a luncheon that brought together Israeli Defense Force soldiers and over eighty survivors. In addition, I spent time researching, filing important documents, speaking on the phone with individual clients, making holiday gift bags, and giving a helping hand to the diligent staff who have numerous tasks to complete. Towards the end of my internship, I joined my supervisor on a home visit. The home visit put all the work I did in the office into perspective. It was special to connect to the people who benefit from my help in the office.
The work I completed for Schechter Holocaust Services has impacted me momentously. It is a comfort knowing there are professionals working to better the daily lives of survivors and those affected by Nazi persecution. I believe other young people like me who feel passionate about connecting their lives to the brave and commendable generations before us would feel the same way if they had such a powerful experience. I am grateful for the experience I had working with a warm and intelligent staff. In the future I hope other young people will be inspired to take the opportunity to volunteer and provide services for survivors and elderly immigrants.
Hannah Hiam interned with Schechter Holocaust Services before graduating from Gann Academy this month. She will be attending Trinity College in the fall.