Miriam Davidow: When Faith and Inspiration Meet Action

In celebrating the start of faith communities in partnership with Richmond Public Schools this past fall at the Annual Micah Kickoff, it is only appropriate to hear the story of someone who was there at the beginning.

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Miriam Davidow, of the Richmond Jewish Coalition for Literacy, helped make the connection happen at Swansboro almost 16 years ago and continues to mentor today.

“I feel a part of Swansboro. I can’t imagine myself not going.”

16 years ago Miriam Davidow and the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond decided to join the national chapter in their efforts to provide literacy opportunities for kids. To this end the Richmond Jewish Coalition for Literacy was formed and, after some research, began a volunteering relationship with Swansboro Elementary school.

“We from the Jewish community have many sages that tell us what we should do and what is right. There’s something called Tikkun Olam which means to repair the world. God created the world to the point where He then turned it over to human kind – you finish the job. And we need to work to finish the job. That means, for me, I can’t help every child but I can help one or two of them at a time,” says Miriam . To this day she has mentored 7 students, and sometimes, even two at a time.

“I love working with kids. I love knowing that I have made a small impact in their happiness, in them thinking about the future. That I’m a resource for them and that I help them think about something they wouldn’t normally think about.” says Miriam. Topics range from problem solving to career plans. But they are all based around her mentee’s life. When one of her mentees said that he was going to get a car that was labeled as costing 0$, she saw this as a growing opportunity. After deducing that what he saw was a 0$ down sign, they worked together to find out what that meant. “You have to be careful. They are trying to get you.” Miriam smiled recalling what she said to her mentee. “We spent a lot of time looking at the newspaper and car ads thinking about what that really means.”

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Mentoring, for Miriam, looks alot like this: getting to know her mentee, building trust, and developing a relationship. “I always try and connect with the kids that I have,” says Miriam. “It’s very developmental. I start with ‘What do I like? What do you like? What do we like to do together?’ and then go from there.” One of her mentees loves to cook so they spent some time thinking about what she could do with that interest. Miriam remembers saying to her, “You might open a restaurant someday. Wouldn’t that be great! I’ll come and eat at your restaurant.”  For Miriam, this kind of encouragement is invaluable in her mentoring relationships. “I think we need to go back to our kids and say, ‘you have self-worth,you have value and you can be anything you want to be. What can I do to help encourage you? You can be anything you want to be and here’s what you might need to get there.’”
Micah is so thankful for Miriam Davidow: for her dedication to the children of Richmond Public Schools and helping to lay the foundation for what Micah has become today.Mentoring boils down to each individual child. The value of each child is what inspires faith communities to become involved in opportunities like Micah and it is what continues to drive Miriam to pour her heart into her mentees. Also, this belief in the children keeps bringing her back to Swansboro. “This is a different kind of volunteering. This is in the weeds and I really like it. It’s an important part of my week and it’s an amazing opportunity to be with kids.”


Interested in volunteering with Micah? Click here to connect!

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