Michael J. Schultz
Helps Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Help Others
By Susie Davidson
CAMBRIDGE - Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association is truly a crown jewel of Harvard Yard. The organization runs the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter; its 1800 students volunteers run more than 80 programs benefitting the less fortunate.
A current focus of PBHA is raising funds for its mainly student-run ten Summer Urban Programs, which provide extensive, motivational programming for over 800 Cambridge and Boston children aged 6-13. At a cost of $50 per child for the entire summer, the camps represent a highly affordable program for urban youth.
Integral to the development of these and other programs at the PBHA is Michael J. Schultz, an Orthodox Jew from Newton with a very finely instilled social conscience.
Schultz, who attended Maimonides School from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, is currently a senior at Harvard. He also spent a year in Jerusalem’s Old City at Yeshivat HaKotel.
How did his involvement in social causes commence?
“My first public service experience was in my last semester at Maimonides,” he recalls, “volunteering every Friday at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless through Maimonides' Project Shalom. While at Yeshivat HaKotel, I heard about a chesed organization that helped place yeshiva students, and came to volunteer at a school for autistic children and a boarding school for children from broken homes.”
At Harvard, Schultz quicily found opportunities to further this mission of mitzvah.
“Through the First-Year Urban Program,” he explains, “which brings together first-years who are interested in social action, I learned about the Phillips Brooks House Association and its Harvard Square Homeless Shelter at the University-Lutheran Church.”
That first fall, Schultz attended PBHA’s Open House and jumped in, signing up for the Shelter and for the afterschool classroom-based Fresh Pond Enrichment Program. He volunteered at both through his entire freshman year; subsequent Harvard years have been no less committed.
“In sophomore year,” he continues, “I became a shelter supervisor, overseeing all operations one overnight shift a week. Junior year, I became the shelter administrative director, taking care of budgeting, fundraising, managing finances, helping determine policies, helping to manage the rest of our staff, and caring for our relationship both with the church and with PBHA.”
Schultz became an officer of PBHA, a student member of its Board of Trustees and helped to oversee its 84 programs. He has helped run two annual appeals and several other fundraising events.
Last summer, he helped direct PBHA’s Native American Youth Enrichment Program Camp for 45 Boston-area Native American children.
“My parents and teachers taught me the Jewish ethic of service,” he says. “After surveying the landscape of opportunities at Harvard, I was convinced that PBHA offered the most extensive and best organized programming. Its ethic of demanding regular weekly service, its devotion to being student-run, and its constant evaluation of community needs are some of its best qualities.
“PBHA is the largest and best student-run service organization in the
Schultz is also active in Harvard Hillel’s Orthodox Minyan community. Following graduation, he plans to continue in the same vein, producing service programming for Jewish high schools, working with both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. He’ll begin at Stern High School in Philadelphia.
“PBHA, the largest student-run organization at Harvard, was founded in 1901 by six organizations in honor of the Rev. Phillips Brooks,” says Executive Director Paul McDonald, “who was a Trinity Church in Boston preacher and a Harvard chaplain. The building was dedicated after his death to the spirit of charity and giving to the community.
“As best we can tell,” he says, “it’s the only student-operated shelter in the country. And much like the shelter itself, these are not one day per week commitments, but rather, serious commitments on the part of the students, who don’t receive academic credit or any other type of compensation.”
SUP is in the middle of its annual appeal; checks made out to Phillips Brooks House Association can be sent to Phillips Brooks House, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138. SUP is also holding a raffle through this week, with prizes ranging from meeting Sen. Kennedy to an autographed marionette of Justin Timberlake from N*SYNC.