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Wexner Service Corps

A Year-Long Service-Learning Program for High School Students

Applicant and Parent FAQ

What is the Wexner Service Corps (WSC)?

The Wexner Service Corps (WSC) is a service-learning initiative for Columbus Jewish teenagers. It launched with an inaugural New York Service Trip in June 2013. Wexner Service Corps members participated in hands-on Hurricane Sandy relief work while learning Jewish texts related to the value of service and reflecting on the work, its impact and the harsh reality of disasters. Since then, Columbus Jewish teens have cumulatively put in thousands of service hours into serving both the Columbus community and in New York, New Orleans, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Houston. The Wexner Service Corps was inspired by Hannah Wexner.

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What is Jewish learning?

Jewish learning is the practice of studying both traditional Jewish texts and putting them into conversation with contemporary sources and articles, as well as secular texts that are learned through a Jewish lens, in order to inspire thoughtful conversation and reflection. We try to make all the learning interesting, inspiring and relevant to all WSC members regardless of skill level, prior experience or affiliation.

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What is the year-round service work like?

Throughout the year, all WSC participants will volunteer locally during monthly volunteer opportunities in Columbus, each paired with an opportunity for Jewish conversations and reflection. These events often take place on Sunday mornings. There will also be multiple optional opportunities for service beyond our monthly mandatory events.


Sample Year-Round Program

August – Summit Vision
September – Blanket making for Nationwide Children's Hospital
October – Habitat for Humanity
November – KIPP Columbus; Worthington Resource Center
December – Family Mentor Foundation
January – Lifetown
February – Broad Street Pantry
March – J-Serve
April – Wexner Heritage Village
May – Camp Mary Orton
June 6-11, 2021 - Out-of-state service trip

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What if I have conflicts (e.g. extracurricular activities, family events, trips) and cannot fully commit to Sundays during the 2020-2021 school year?

All monthly service events are mandatory. We will do our best to send out the schedule in advance so that you can plan accordingly. We understand that, occasionally, there are unavoidable conflicts which might necessitate missing part or all of an event. As soon as you are aware of a potential conflict, you should contact us directly. WSC members commit to missing no more than two service events that have been excused in advance. Our expectation is that you will make up any missed service hours on your own time.

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About the Trip

Who will be on the trip?

Around 40 Columbus Jewish teenagers, grades 11 & 12, from various high schools, along with staff members from The Wexner Foundation.

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When is the trip? Where will the trip be going this year?

As of now, the trip for the 2020-2021 class will take place from June 6-11, 2021 and the location will be announced soon. Regardless, we will either fly round-trip from Columbus via chartered plane or we will take a coach bus.

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Do I have to go on the entire trip? Can I arrive late or leave early?

All participants are required to participate in the entire trip. Please contact us if that creates a conflict.

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What will the group eat? Will the food be kosher?

All meals will be certified kosher and provided by a local caterer.

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What are the service sites?

Our schedule is still being finalized, and we plan to have a full itinerary and description of service work for you at the orientation.

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Who will be directing and accompanying the group?

The WSC is under the direction of Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik, Wexner Service Corps program director. There will be at least four additional madrichim (counselors), including experienced OSU students and Wexner Graduate Fellows (graduate students), educators who have benefited from The Wexner Foundation’s leadership development program.  Our partner agencies will also deploy staff at the work site.

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What kind of work will participants be doing?

There will be several different types of service that will enable the Corps to employ different skills and tap into the diverse range of skills and passion that our members possess. Past work has included home repairs, gardening/farming, educational programming for elementary school students, advocacy, mural painting, and park cleaning.

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What if I am unable to participate in physical labor due to injury, disability, or any other reason?

We do our best to accommodate participants with a range of physical abilities. If you have questions about your ability to participate in physical labor, please contact us to discuss. 

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What will a typical day look like?

Each day will include approximately six hours of service, followed by opportunities for Jewish conversations, learning about the issue areas, and reflection, bolstered by speakers from the communities and agencies where we will be working. In the evening, we’ll both unwind and have fun.

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What should Corps members pack and plan to wear?

You will receive a packing list 10 days before the trip which will tell you how to dress for the service work we will be doing. However, in regards to the type of clothing, we advise participants to keep the following in mind, in both work-day clothing and evening activity clothing choices:  As we travel throughout our trip, Corps Members will be representing themselves, Columbus and The Wexner Foundation. We advise Corps members to consider the Jewish value of tzniut (modesty and humility) which applies not only to the clothes we wear, but to the way we conduct ourselves in public places. Please wear clothing that will allow you to move freely while also being respectful of the environment. This could apply to baggy pants, sleeveless or low-cut tops, too-short shorts, etc.

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What will make the trip Jewish?

We believe that service and Jewish learning are integral to Jewish life and identity. As such, the trip will be a highly Jewish experience. Jewish thought, text and questions will be the frame through which we’ll explore the work we’re doing and the feelings evoked by the experience. Each day we will spend 90 minutes reflecting on the work we have done through Jewish values in learning and discussion sessions. Corps members come from the spectrum of Jewish life in Columbus and learning from each other and developing Jewish friendships are among the core goals of the Corps. The food provided will be kosher and there will be optional opportunities to pray together if Corps members are interested.

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Independent Review from The Wexner Foundation



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