Name: Benjamin Gavartin
School: Veritas Preparatory Academy
Scheduled date of bar mitzvah: Oct. 11 at Temple Solel
Describe your mitzvah project: My project is called “Ben Feeds Back.” I am turning a homeless shelter’s soup kitchen into a five-star restaurant for one night and surprising the homeless people. I am doing this at UMOM, a homeless shelter that helps more homeless families in Arizona than any other organization. I am also raising money for UMOM (with a goal of $25,000 by Sept. 30).
What inspired you to do this project? I wanted to do something that had meaning to me. Other than sports, I love food and going to nice restaurants. I once saw a video where a guy surprised a bunch of homeless people with a nice meal sort of as a nice prank, but they all loved it so much and felt special. It was really cool. I want to make people feel happy and feel that there is hope.
Why did you choose to work with this organization? I chose UMOM because they help homeless families, which means they help kids and that means more to me.
When did you start the project and when do you expect to finish? I started planning the project in late March. The event will be on Sept. 30.
What was the process of getting the project off the ground? I had to ask lots of people to help me, research homeless shelters and try to find a location, design a website, and much more. Every day now, I am writing emails to people, updating my website and blog, still looking for suppliers and certain volunteers and trying to keep up with school and sports.
So far the supporters are: Eddie Matney (chef), McClendon Farms (produce) Shamrock Foods (produce and other things), Rocking R Farms (short ribs), Circle Key Farms (short ribs), Local-One (website), Creative Occasions (linens, drapes, decorations and more) Araya Photography and 48-Hour Media (putting it on film with pics and video) and String Serenade (music). I also have lots of volunteers for the actual event.
How do you hope your project will affect the people it’s designed to benefit? I hope the event makes them feel happy, special, cared about and loved so they can try to change their life for the better. The money I raise will help UMOM do all the work they do for the homeless families.
What have you learned from the project? So far, I have learned lots, including that sometimes things look easier than they really are. Also I learned that doing things that scare you makes you a better person and usually those things aren’t so scary after all. If you don’t ask for what you want, you have no chance in getting it, but if you ask then you usually will get it. I had to ask lots of people for help and almost all of them said yes.
To learn more about the project, visit benfeedsback.com. Arizona donors can receive a dollar-for-dollar working poor tax credit (up to $200 for individuals or up to $400 for married couples). Ben is still seeking sponsors for the following items: individual desserts, dinner rolls, prestige wear (fancy plastic plates, silverware and glasses) and beverages (all for 200 people), as well as 600 stems of flowers. To assist with the project, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.