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13-year-old Raises Nearly $5,000 to Help Coloradans with Rent

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Colorado Apartment Association and its members started the Resident Relief Fund, which now has more than $120,000 in donations to help Coloradans pay rent.

Rena Brittan, a 13-year-old in Denver announced in June that as part of her bat mitzvah project she was going to raise funds for Coloradans who need help paying rent.

Rena’s mother, Dana Brittan, stated that for bat mitzvahs, the mitzvah project is typically a community project.

“A bat mitzvah is the ceremony to recognize becoming an adult, so the Jewish community wants to see the child exhibit a sense of community engagement. Due to COVID-19, we were limited in what our community project could be since we could not do a community engagement project that involved human contact.”

Rena had been studying child labor laws and poverty in school and was struck by how COVID-19 would further complicate the issues related to job loss and poverty and wanted to help people who had been affected.

“As part of my bat mitzvah, I will read in Hebrew from the Torah Scroll,” said Rena. “To summarize my reading, it says, ‘When you are more fortunate than others, instead of thinking about your own problems, open your hands and help those who are less fortunate.’”

This reading is also what helped Rena make the decision to partner with Resident Relief Foundation (RRF), a 501(c)(3) to help people pay rent.

“For my mitzvah project, I wanted to partner with a foundation that supported people who had job losses because of COVID-19 and help pay rent,” said Rena.

“We are honored that Rena and her family decided to partner with Resident Relief Foundation, especially for such a special milestone in her life,” said Tina Oswald, executive director of RRF. “So many families across the United States are struggling to pay their rent, and we are grateful for people like Rena who are stepping up to contribute and help our efforts to raise millions of dollars to bring renters the relief they so desperately need.”

Rena initially set a goal of $3,600 when she launched the GoFundMe page in June. Currently, the page has $4,547 in donation from more than 63 donors. Rena’s mother, Dana explained why the donation amount was $3,600.

“The 18th letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents the word life,” said Dana. “In the Jewish culture, it’s customary that people give in donations in multiples of 18. So, several of the donations have been made in multiples of $18, and that’s why the original goal was $3,600.”

Now that Rena has exceeded her goal, she is continuing to ask for donations to the Resident Relief Foundation via the GoFundMe page instead of gifts for her bat mitzvah. Rena stated, “Since COVID-19, more people are being laid off, and that makes it hard to pay your rent, I want to help people pay rent.”

“Rena is a great example of people who are pulling together to help support our community during this pandemic,” said Mark Williams, executive vice president of the Colorado Apartment Association. “The Colorado Apartment Association and our members started the Colorado Resident Relief Fund as a way to support residents who live in our community during this time in need. Our members have gone above and beyond to contribute more than $120,000 so far to help Coloradans. We appreciate Rena’s efforts for the Resident Relief Foundation and encourage anyone who can afford to donate to please do so. All of this money in this fund directly supports Coloradans with rent.”

Aug. 8 is Rena’s bat mitzvah ceremony, where she will encourage family and friends attending who have not yet donated to donate to the GoFundMe page. When asked what she thinks the recipients will have to say about the donation, Rena stated, “I think people will be grateful.”

To make a donation to Rena’s mitzvah project, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/rena039s-bat-mitzvah-service-project. Of donations collected through the GoFundMe, 100% will be sent to the Resident Relief Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a dedicated fund to help Coloradans in need of paying rent.

For more COVID-19 resident resources, visit https://www.aamdhq.org/news/coronavirus. To make a donation to help Colorado families, visit: www.residentrelieffoundation.org/colorado.