Monthly Archives: March 2015
|March 23, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Education, Interview Series||
Zack Block, a life-long Pittsburgher, is the Director of Repair the World: Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that offers volunteer opportunities tailored to meet local needs. Zack is also Board Chair of the Hillel Jewish University Center, and sits on the advisory committee of the Neighborhood Learning Alliance and the board of The Documentary Works.
First job out of college?
My first job out of college was working for what was Mellon Financial which is now the Bank of New York Mellon. I was a Portfolio Administrator, which means that I assisted people who managed high net worth individuals’ money.
How were you drawn to nonprofit work?
I was a tax attorney for more than 8 years and in reality it was a combination of opportunity and inertia that led me to that role and kept me there. For a long time though I wasn’t happy and I looked at a few things that made me happy while trying to determine what to do next. The first was my family, which I love and they are so supportive of me. The second was my volunteering. I spent a lot of time volunteering in the community and it was incredibly fulfilling work. Those two things are what really drove me to look for work in the nonprofit world.
First thing you do each day?
I am lucky enough to help get my kids ready for school and have breakfast with them. In my old work that wasn’t the norm. After I usually take one of them to school and my wife takes the other one then I head to our workshop. I open up the space and make coffee and heat up water for tea for the fellows when we all get together to meet in the mornings at 9a.m. and really get started on the cohort’s day.
What keeps you motivated?
What really keeps me going is that I believe in the work that we’re doing. We work in both education and food justice and in bringing the Jewish community to this work. We believe that change can occur from either a top down or a bottom up perspective and the work that we do is much more geared to the bottom up perspective. So, for example, our fellows mentor in after school programs and then recruit others to mentor in these after school programs as well. This idea of building a partner’s capacity so that it can carry out its missions more efficiently and effectively also really keeps me going.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Collaboration is the key to success. I don’t remember who shared that with me but I truly believe in collaboration. If you partner and collaborate with good people who are doing good things then only more good can come from it.
What are you reading?
I’m currently reading Robert Putnam’s latest book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. I’m reading it with my Repair the World counterparts in Philadelphia and Detroit. The book examines the growing inequality gap in the U.S.
What is one goal that you hope to accomplish in 2015?
I really want to work to start the process aimed at making Repair the World a sustainable program in Pittsburgh.
Best thing about the nonprofit sector in Pittsburgh?
It’s such a collaborative atmosphere. I love collaboration and working with and meeting so many people and individuals who are interested in what we’re doing and how we can and do work together. It’s amazing!
What does Repair the World have coming up this spring?
We have a litter program called Pitch In to Pitch In that we’re kicking off on Friday, March 27 with a dinner. We still have spots open for volunteers on Sunday, March 28.
|March 19, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Health, Research, Uncategorized||
Although the United States leads the world in obesity rates (don’t worry, the world is catching up) a recent study indicates that the majority of Americans do care about their health and put effort into improving or maintaining it. Data from a NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey conducted last fall indicate that just over 60 percent of those polled were concerned with their health and 74 percent reported exercising or participating in vigorous activity at least a few times a week (29 percent reported exercising every day). However, just 16 percent were currently dieting to lose weight.
Also from the March 2015 brief What Shapes Health, approximately 50 percent of Americans feel they have control over their own health, but proportions vary by demographic characteristics. For example, respondents who made more than $50,000 a year were twice as likely to feel that they had control over their health than their peers earning less (28 percent compared to 13 percent). Far more respondents with a college degree (27 percent) reported having control over their health compared to those with a high school diploma or less (15 percent). Also, respondents in fair or poor health, or from a household making less than $25,000 a year, had the most concern for their own future health.
Respondents did not identify a single cause of American health problems, rather the responses clustered at the top included a lack of access to high quality care (42 percent), personal behavior (40 percent), and virus/bacteria (40 percent). The most popular responses regarding what could be done to improve health were also varied – increasing access to affordable, healthy food (57 percent), reducing illegal drug use (54 percent), reducing pollution and increasing access to high quality health care (both at 52 percent).