Jericho Road is nearly ten years old! Here's what Jericho Road's Executive Director had to say about getting started in Lowell . . . More
Tireless traveler on road to helping others
By Michael LaFleur, Sun Staff
Q: How did you end up in the Israeli army?
A: “Because I'm Israeli.” (All Israeli citizens must serve in that country's army). Holin, the child of an American mother and an Israeli father, has held dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship since birth. He has lived in the United States since he was in his 20s. “I basically have been commuting between the U.S. and Israel my whole life.”
Q: So how did you end up heading this project at a Unitarian Universalist Church?
A: “I ended up here because I was unemployed and my good neighbors, Dan and Lee, who are UU's, handed me this flier,” he said. “It talked about this job, this concept about bridging two communities, Concord and Lowell, and a leadership role. Despite it being a church, I went. Where I grew up in Israel, it's not like churches area commonplace. To me, it was a bit of a leap.”
Q: So what did you do before this, and what drew you to this work?
A: “My last job was with the Mass. Cultural Council. I was directing a project called the STARK Project, which also had to do with bridging communities. It was supposed to bridge museums in three locations in Massachusetts with the minority or poor communities that were their neighbors but with whom they had no contact.
“I also had a bunch of jobs where I always tried to bridge communities, even though that wasn't in the job description. I used to be a mechanic, and I would arrange meetings for the management and the workers to have weekly meetings. I used to arrange basketball games between my old neighborhood and my new neighborhood (in Israel). I used to do a lot of Arab-Jewish collaboration stuff when I was working for the Ministry of Culture in Israel.
“Looking back, if I try to make sense of my career, it's been that I've tried to bridge communities together. When you're the product of divorced parents, it's maybe something that comes kind of instinctively.”
Q: So why did the Jericho Road Project pick Lowell? Why not Boston or someplace else?
A: “There's several reasons. One is the diversity of the need and the depth of the need. Our business is to help. The reason we didn't do Boston is because in Boston, your effort gets lost. How do you see or feel your effort made a difference in a huge community?
“One thing had to do with the need. The other had to do with the proximity. When you're relying on volunteer efforts, you want people to spend most of their time volunteering rather than driving. Then, there was kind of a welcoming spirit in Lowell to this venture. When we went and spoke to people, they were just open to working with us. They didn't have any problem with the fact we were from Concord.
“Also, Lowell has an ego, and Lowell has been places and wants to go places. To us, the ego was inspiring. Jericho Road also has ambitions. It was a great match.”
Q: Was Jericho Road already established when you began?
A: When I got on board, there was this concept of bridging communities, specifically Concord and Lowell, by sharing the professional experience that Concord has in abundance with the need that is in Lowell. But there were really no clients, no volunteers and no product.”
Q: Besides the obvious, what are the main differences you notice between Concord and Lowell?
A: “While Lowell is a vibrant city, Concord is a sleepy village. It's an interesting point that Lowell ironically serves a need that Concord has. If you look at our client and volunteer satisfaction ratings, they're both very high. While the median household income in Concord could be double that of Lowell, there's a need that people have in Concord that Lowell fills. That need is the need to help, to have meaning.”
Q: What sort of cycling do you do?
A: “I road-ride primarily, but I also mountain bike and tandem ride. I do a little bit of racing. I'm going to do the Mount Washington Hill Climb this year.”
Q: How many agencies has Jericho Road helped?
A: “We've worked with over 60 non-profits and small businesses in Lowell on about 180 collaborations over the past three year, and we've delivered about 5,000 hours of professional expertise.”
Q: What is the Jericho Road budget?
A: $150,000 this year
Q: Have you found your calling?
A: “I think so. I really do. It's a job that takes advantage of my strengths and ignores my weaknesses. Who wouldn't love to work in their own community and help their own community as well as help a neighboring community and meet an incredibly diverse and interesting range of people everyday? It's a job that sits right at the intersection of an entrepreneurial and a moral endeavor.”
© 2006 The Sun (Lowell, MA). All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.