In Avi’s Memory We Find Inspiration

Dear Friends of Avi z”l and the Avi Schaefer Fund,

The newspapers and radio waves are full of descriptions of the destruction wrought by the typhoon in the Philippines last week. As I listen to the stories and read about the losses, I find that I am missing Avi and bringing to mind his efforts in response to similar devastation in Haiti nearly four years ago.

avi-group-shotI can still picture Avi in our living room as he talked about his plan to raise funds for relief efforts in Haiti, and I remember well the intensity of his purpose. He was meant to be relaxing on his winter break from school, but before his return to campus he had set himself the goal of not only making a difference in Haiti, but of doing so by increasing awareness of the important work of the Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAID.

IsraAID was among the first groups to offer medical relief to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, setting up a field clinic and engaging in search-and-rescue activities, and as a non-governmental, non-profit organization it has an incredible record as a first responder to tragedies worldwide. IsraAID was the clearest embodiment of the Israel that Avi loved, and here was an opportunity to share it with others while simultaneously bringing help where it was needed most.

When Avi returned to Brown he enlisted the help of his fellow students, as well as a number of organizations, to help publicize and put on a benefit party whose proceeds would be donated to IsraAID. Avi was creative and resourceful in his planning, even connecting with a local Providence bus company to ferry students to and from the off-campus event location. The company’s drivers turned out to be from Haiti and volunteered their services, adding a very personal aspect to the evening. This was meant to be the first of many such events, a trial run of a mechanism Avi envisioned that would leverage the resources of often-disaffected young people to fulfill the goal of supporting a worthy cause, bring more attention to an overwhelmingly positive aspect of Israel’s interaction with the world, and do so in a way that was compelling and enjoyable for everyone who participated.

Our family is committed to carrying on the work Avi began, to support those in need in the world, and at the same time highlight the important work of this Israeli humanitarian organization. IsraAID is again making a difference in a time of tragedy, this time offering medical assistance and other support in the Philippines, and it is our hope that through our own efforts and reaching out to our community we, too, can help make that difference.

We invite you to remember Avi by joining us in making a donation to IsraAID in his memory. The official website for IsraAID provides the opportunity to donate through two conduit organizations (Global Giving and IsraelGives), both of whom deduct a percentage of your gift for their services.  Alternatively, make your donation through the Avi Schaefer Fund. Include a note that the intended recipient of your gift is IsraAID and we will make sure that 100% of the money donated by you goes directly to IsraAID. In addition you may want to consider contributing to The Union for Reform Judaism Disaster Relief and American Jewish World Service, both of which support relief efforts worldwide.

If you are a young person and want to do something constructive within your school community, bear Avi’s efforts in mind and consider a project among your peers to raise awareness of IsraAID’s work and raise funds to support their important efforts to help the people of the Philippines. Avi’s benefit event raised several thousand dollars for IsraAID and its efforts in Haiti, we hope that part of his legacy may be a continuing series of similar events in support of this organization’s great work.
Photo credit:Nufar Tagar

May Avi’s memory continue to be a blessing and may it move us to action, following his lead, helping us to make the world a better place.

Laurie Gross Schaefer and family

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