UMass Hillel enlists cyclists, walkers for yearly Ride to Provide
COURTESY UMASS HILLEL A scene from last fall's Ride to Provide, sponsored by the UMass Hillel. The fundraiser takes place again this Sunday in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
AMHERST — A day of hearty exercise Sunday through hills around Amherst will propel weeks of good works by the Jewish student organization at the University of Massachusetts.
UMass Hillel holds its sixth annual Ride to Provide Sunday, having already collected more than $45,000 worth of pledges from participating bicyclists.
This year, a two-mile walk around the campus is also an option for participants, who can join in by registering at www.umasshillel.org/ridetoprovide. The ride raised $55,000 in 2011.
The day starts at the Hillel House at 388 North Pleasant St. and offers choices of nine-, 18- and 36-mile bike rides. Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. A rest stop awaits at the base of Mount Pollux in South Amherst with music and refreshments. There is also a post-event party at Hillel House at 1 p.m. with lunch, chair massages and a raffle for participants.
“We try to make it a no-brainer, a win-win situation,” said Courtney Pupkin, UMass Hillel’s development director.
The bulk of the proceeds is used to underwrite the program’s alternative spring break community service projects each March. Students will again head for New Orleans this spring to continue helping with post-Katrina projects, said Rabbi Saul Perlmutter of UMass Hillel.
“It’s amazing to think that there’s still work to do,” Perlmutter said of New Orleans. In the past few springs, 15 to 20 UMass students, not all of them Jewish, have journeyed to Louisiana for that work.
“It’s hard to say who gets more out of these trips,” he said of students and those they help out in the field. “I can’t tell you how many students wrote (in evaluations), ‘This is a life-changing experience for me.’ ”
One student, Nate Rothstein, joined the Americorps program after his alternative spring break experience with UMass Hillel and went on to found a group that works to bring young professionals to New Orleans. Perlmutter said Rothstein was named to the group “40 under 40” for that project. “He was recognized for starting that whole national effort.”
UMass Hillel also aims to begin a local farm-related project next summer, with planning now under way. “Students so enjoy doing something meaningful,” Perlmutter said.
In addition to raising money for its own work, the UMass Hillel Ride to Provide allows participants who register as teams of five or more members to support their own causes and split the proceeds of pledges evenly with Hillel.
Information is on the UMass Hillel website.
“We definitely benefit lots of people,” Perlmutter said of the UMass Hillel work, “and we hope the community will participate.”