My name is Damond Ford and I am a Program Manager at City Year New Hampshire. Each month there will be a special blog posted by a CYNH staff member to give a special and unique snapshot of what’s happening at the site. I have the great opportunity to write the first staff blog. This month I look at a special occasion we have at CYNH named ‘Earn Your Uniform’.
A highlight for me every year since I have joined City Year New Hampshire is the Earn Your Uniform portion that takes place during Basic Training Academy (an opportunity for first year corps members to learn about City Year and to learn about the service they will be implementing). Earn Your Uniform is an opportunity for the Senior Corps Team to organize a relay, scavenger hunt or even a series of test for the first year corps members to earn their uniform. I know to some this may seem inappropriate; to have corps members earn their uniform after applying, getting in, and moving to NH from where ever. The uniform is not only a representation of the year of service Corps Members are partaking in but also an extension of the service done by the alumni that have come before. To some the uniform is just their ‘work clothes’ and in fact it is. You can’t come to work without your uniform just right. But to the students and communities in which we serve the uniform is something more. The uniform represents love, trust, and positive energy to the students and the communities we serve. The corps members who have worn the uniform before this year, alumni of the program, made sure that the uniform representation stayed true.
This year was even more special to me because this was my first opportunity to not organize or participate in the event but to witness it. There were several stations that Corps Members had to pass including Physical Training (PT), City Year Pledge, City Year Logo, and Messaging City Year. PT is done weekly to prepare Corps Members’ minds and bodies for a great week of service. PT simply put is a form of calisthenics that City Year does. The City Year Pledge is what we say before we do PT, weekly, and it is a great way of putting what we do into words. Below is the City Year Pledge:
I pledge to serve as a City Year Member to the very best of my ability
To honor the rules and expectations of City Year
To respect my colleagues and people and communities we serve.
To provide excellent service
To lead by example and be a role model to children
To celebrate the diversity of people, ideas and cultures around me.
To serve with an open heart and an open mind
To be quick to help and slow to judge
To do my best to make a difference in the lives of others and
To build a stronger community, nation and world for all of us.
The City Year logo is our most dominate marketing tool. It allows people to know who we are before they know what we do. There are different pieces to our logo that have specific meaning to why they are in our logo (for more information visit http://www.cityyear.org/dynamic_ektid22431.aspx). Messaging City Year is how Corps Members explain City Year when asked unexpectedly.
Along with two other Program Managers from the site, I was a ‘judge’ for the City Year Pledge portion. Each Corps Member would come to us and recite the City Year pledge. Since we have 42 Corps Members and there were three of us, I only saw roughly 14 Corps Members. But the Corps Members I saw were amazing and to be quite honest with you were very inspiring. One by one they would stand in front of me and say, “I pledge to serve as a City Year Member…” and with many of them I could tell they had practiced this thing for many nights. For a few I could tell they felt the words that were coming out of their mouth. To hear “…to lead by example and to be a role model to children…” with passion and conviction made me get chill bumps in the 80 degree sun.
Every Corps Member eventually passed the Earn Your Uniform tests and has received their uniform. To know that the Corps Members who are here “…to build a stronger community, nation and world for all of us…” will continue to work with the same community in which I worked with as Corps Member makes me very proud to continue my work as a staff member here at City Year New Hampshire!