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‘Deliver Together’ Wins Big In ‘Shark Tank’ Competition

Living in the midst of a pandemic, we have been blessed with many new organizations and initiatives that have set out to combat the pervasive fear and isolation many now experience. Since its inception in April, Deliver Together, a chesed organization founded and run by current Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (RKYHS) seniors Maurice Korish and Adam Hollander, has been providing free delivery and errand runs to the elderly and immunocompromised in various communities in northern New Jersey. As the pandemic has progressed, so too has Deliver Together, growing its network of volunteers to include more communities and expanding its efforts to participate in other charitable ventures, such as book and bike drives, in coordination with other charities. On October 12, Deliver Together, represented by presentation team Korish, Hollander and fellow high school students Neil Matthew (director of technical and web development) and Matthew Mendelsohn (director of communications), placed second in “Shark Tank: Saving Lives Edition,” a contest run by Israel Campus Roundtable, winning $3,000 in funding.

Israel Campus Roundtable, a program of the Jewish Federation in Boston, supports and empowers college students in their efforts to do good in the world through its CampusCares agenda. The staff noticed that many of the best, most creative ideas for combating the pandemic came from students on college campuses. This inspired the creation of the “Shark Tank” competition, which Israel Campus Roundtable ran to ensure that the best ideas had the funding they needed to come to fruition. Although the contest was meant to be open only to college student-run groups, an exception was made for Deliver Together. Elan Kawesch, event organizer for the competition, said that Deliver Together was permitted to participate due to “their mission-driven goals and the impressive level of dedication and results that they had already proven in their operations.”

In preparation for the contest, Korish and Hollander met with Matthew and Mendelsohn to plan for the Zoom presentation to the panel. Korish and Hollander explained that it was easy to set up a presentation because all members of Deliver Together’s board are so involved in the organization, so aware of all the ins and outs, that they could speak about it with hardly any preparation needed. On the “Shark Tank” Zoom meeting, the panelists, many of whom were involved in the nonprofit sector themselves, offered advice to each group of presenters about how to maximize their ideas, which the Deliver Together team found to be very helpful. Additionally, the four students were supported on the Zoom call by Rabbi Richard Kirsch and Dr. Steve Stein, two members of RKYHS faculty who have played key roles in Deliver Together’s development, assisting with fleshing out the organization and building COVID safety protocols from the very beginning.

With the funding they have won, the Deliver Together team hopes to continue in their goal of helping as many people as possible, as well as providing an opportunity for high school students to share ideas on how to help their communities. Deliver Together’s board has been working with local governments, meeting with various officials including the mayors of Bloomfield and Livingston as well as the director of Essex County Senior Services, to expand their civic engagement and increase their field of clients to include anyone who is in need, not only the Jewish community. Additionally, they hope to become a 501(c)(3) organization, which will give them more government funding and a sense of legitimacy. The goal, Korish and Hollander explained, is to be able to communicate with any other organization and start working together right away, without technical hitches.

More specifically, Deliver Together plans to use the $3,000 to update the website’s security and accessibility, to market to more seniors, to purchase more PPE for volunteers as well as Deliver Together apparel so they are easily recognized while on the job, and to fund the expansion of their network into new communities and even new states. Deliver Together has already expanded to service the Parkland community in Florida headed by Reuben Zuckerman, who attended school with Korish and Hollander when they were younger, and hopes to soon service communities in Maryland and Massachusetts as well. With the dedication of their diverse volunteer group and the help of community leaders and local governments, Korish and Hollander said that they are “hopeful that our organization can continue to expand and help the community.”

Shira Kosowsky is a junior at Lander College for Women and an intern at The Jewish Link.

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