‘He will be giving of himself’
ASPEN – When Aspen resident Shereen Sarick suggested to her son, Jack, that he donate the money he received for his recent bar mitzvah to charity, he assumed she meant giving away just a percentage of his gifts. But he also knew his mom.
“I was thinking, ‘She’s the Hebrew teacher, so maybe it’ll be more than the usual amount. … Maybe 50 or 75 or maybe even 80 percent,'” Jack said, explaining that most kids donate anywhere from 5 to 20 percent to the charity of their choice. “I was wrong.”
In fact, Shereen suggested that Jack give away 100 percent of his gift money.
“I’ve seen that this becomes a time when kids get lavished, … and it’s a lot for a 13-year-old boy,” she explained. “And oftentimes, these are not people in need.
“I felt that, as a family, we are in a place where Jack does not need this money. People had given generously, and at this stage in Jack’s life, it was more important to share that generosity with others.”
Jack, who admitted it was a little hard to swallow his mother’s suggestion, agreed and is giving 100 percent – which will likely be $25,000 or $30,000 – to the Marshyangdi School in Kathmandu, Nepal.
“I understand her logic,” Jack said. “And I really didn’t have a valid argument against giving away my money. I didn’t have the money before, so it’s not like I will miss it.”
But there were a few bar mitzvah gifts that Jack will be keeping – a Leatherman tool, a compass, a book, a keepsake box – and they all have a tie to the recipient of Jack’s bar mitzvah money.
In two days, the Saricks will embark on the trip of a lifetime – eight months spent traveling around the world. But their trip is more than an extended mother-and-son vacation.
Shereen and Jack are going on what Shereen calls a “volunteering adventure,” which will include two months living and working at the primitive Marshyangdi School.
“So Jack will be not just giving the school money – he will be giving of himself,” said Shereen, who became acquainted with the Marshyangdi School through Aspen friends. “Once we are there, we will figure out with the school what the best use of the money will be.”
Much of the Saricks’ journey will be a work in progress like this.
While Shereen has roughly mapped out the trip – in addition to Kathmandu, stops include Israel, where they will work at a nature center that has become an ad-hoc intake center for the lost boys of Sudan; time in Thailand, Cambodia and other places in Southeast Asia; and ending in Nunavut, a province in the Canadian Arctic – many details have been left to “serendipity.”
“I dreamt up this trip when Jack was in fourth grade, and I can’t believe it’s really happening,” Shereen said, adding that her husband and Jack’s dad, Jordan, will join up with them at points along the way. “And yes, there was a lot of planning leading up to it becoming a reality. But a lot of it we need to just figure out as we go.
“I didn’t want to commit to too much except that we will be doing service projects everywhere we are.”
As a result, Shereen knows that there will be times when she and Jack will be forced outside their comfort zone. That’s a good thing, she said.
“That’s what this is all about. We will need to dig deep to figure out why we are uncomfortable and figure out how we can find comfort and happiness is any situation,” she said. “And I can only believe that something good will come out of it.”
“If neither of us changes or learns something from this, we did something wrong,” he said.
Follow Shereen and Jack’s trip at http://www.jackandmom.com.
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