Even a snowstorm could not stop this Mitzvah Mensch from spreading cheer! Meet our latest Mitzvah Mensch, Makayla! Makayla’s mitzvah project is all about bringing sweetness and joy to the residents at The Selfhelp Home.
Makayla is a member of Anshe Emet Synagogue through Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School where she’s been a student since nursery school. Makayla said she loves being a student at Bernard Zell for a variety of reasons: “The community is really strong and supportive. I like the small class sizes, there are only 14-16 kids in each class. Normally during the school year we switch off between different types of arts everyday like music, performing arts and visual; but this year we are learning one type of art at a time during COVID.”
“Her heart is as big and wide as her smile! I am thrilled The Selfhelp Home has made this opportunity possible for her.”
Not only is she interested in the arts at school, Makayla is a very busy young lady in her spare time! She loves to dance and is on a team for a dance company in Chicago. Makayla very thoughtfully added, “Maybe one day I can perform a dance via zoom for the residents.” This Mitzvah Mensch is very creative…She makes jewelry for her own brand Style Savage – which she has sold items to a Chicago boutique! In another extracurricular project, Makayla and her friend spray paint masks and make matching t-shirts during the pandemic. 10% of the mask/shirt proceeds go to PAWS Chicago. Makayla loves animals and has two pets: dog, Delphi, and a new puppy, Russell.
While planning her mitzvah project, Makayla wanted to spread kindness to the senior community inspired by memories of her grandfather. When it was time for the family to search for the right senior care facility for her grandpa a few years ago, they visited six different nursing homes. Her mom, Elizabeth, fondly shared: “At every home we visited, Makayla asked everyone ‘How’s your food?’. Her grandfather loved food and desserts – especially chocolate! She was concerned about the homes having good food for him.”
Makayla remembered visiting her grandfather at the nursing home before he passed and thought: “They seemed like they could use something to brighten up their day.” Then she had just the idea for her project! “That’s where baked goods came in. They’re something nice and enjoyable the residents can have.”
Makayla’s love for baking was inspired during the pandemic:
“During quarantine I started baking more because it gave me something to do. I like baking a lot because even if it doesn’t turn out well, it’s still a fun experience.”
When asked how she knew The Selfhelp Home was the right home for her project, Makayla explained that it actually wasn’t her first time being involved with the home. Last year, her class visited the Assisted Living residents where they made crafts and spoke with the residents. Also, she used to be in the school choir and two years ago they sang for the residents. Rabbi Siegel highly recommended she go to Selfhelp for her project.
Makayla’s baking project consisted of asking families at her school, synagogue, and friends to choose a baked good to make. She inspired 60 other families to participate in baking for our residents! Makayla made brownies with frosting and her brother made cupcakes. Other participants made a variety of delicious goodies for the residents including banana bread, cookies, and more!
Her baking project was not only delicious, but also included a personal touch! Makayla received a list of names of The Selfhelp Home’s assisted living residents. For every family that participated in baking, they were assigned a resident at the home to write a letter to. Some families even included their home address to be penpals!
What did you enjoy most about your project?
“I liked that the resident I wrote to actually wrote back to me. I enjoyed cheering them up.”
Makayla’s extended family is currently living in California, so she will be bringing her bat mitzvah to them on March 6, 2021! She’s going to have an outdoor service in Palm Desert where most of her family will be in attendance to help her celebrate this milestone. They will also be recording her service via Zoom for her friends in Illinois and The Selfhelp Home residents to watch! Makayla’s mom Elizabeth hinted that there will be fun surprises on the Zoom event that she doesn’t know about yet – stay tuned!
What does it mean to you to become a bat mitzvah? Makayla shared:
“It means that I’m becoming a young adult and more mature.”
Interested in becoming a Mitzvah Mensch at The Selfhelp Home?