On One Foot

Written by Savannah Binder, Guelph Hillel Exec

The continued existence of the Hillel House was threatened this year by limited funds, which prompted our Executive to rally together with the hope of saving it. The entire process was a bonding experience in itself as well as a lesson in taking ownership of what is important to us as a group. Project “Save-the-Hillel-House” began first with a team of us cleaning the house and determining what could be thrown away, what should stay and what should be donated. The bonding effects of cleaning, trashing, and donating are truly underestimated. Next, we participated in a ‘competition’ called On One Foot against Hillel at Queen’s University, to see who could raise the most money towards a goal. Our goal was to save the Hillel house. It was a pilot program and I wasn’t sure how successful we would be at peer-to- peer fundraising but wanted to try because of the importance of the Hillel House.

The first Hillel event I ever attended was at the Hillel House. Little did I know that beginning-of- the-year barbeque in 2013 would be the event that would hook me into Hillel for the rest of my years at Guelph. I remember the BBQ as having a laid back and relaxed atmosphere where Jewish people (mostly students) could hang out, interact, and get to know one another. As I became more involved with Hillel, I realized that the house was also used for meetings, hangouts, studying and events. Having a space off campus was quite liberating, to say the least. The door is always open, with a ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ kind of mentality. If you use it, clean it. It’s a communal space, and in that sense, the closest thing to a Kibbutz we can muster. After only 5 weeks of campaigning, Team Guelph ended up raising just under 20,000 dollars through On One Foot! We primarily raised the funds by asking family and friends to donate. However, we also held a small auction where Exec members auctioned off skills and services. For example, I auctioned off Ukulele lessons and essay editing. Other people auctioned off workout/training sessions, a painting, a personalized song, a hamburger kit, and much more. It was very successful, not to mention hilarious and fun. It was incredible to see students engaged and taking ownership. In an age where communities are hard to come by, and where individuals tend to stick to themselves, this project really brought us all together. The fruits of our labour are that we now have a stable place to continue to grow our community. Guelph Hillel would not be the same without the Hillel House; it is a centralizing feature that each one of us has a personal connection with and a place we want to see continue.