Timberland’s 14th Serv-a-palooza has come and gone, and for someone who has been a part of numerous community service projects, you would think another day ending in paint-covered hands and dirty cargos wouldn’t be anything to rant about. But September 7th and 8th– the two days I was privileged enough to be a part of Serv-a-palooza – will go down as two of the most memorable days of my City Year experience. There is one specific moment I would like to share because I don’t think I will ever experience anything like it again in my lifetime, and I am overwhelmingly thankful for it.
On Wednesday, September 7th, I was invited to be a part of a circle that I still don’t think I was worthy of. Beside me stood countless City Year and Timberland powerhouses, including CEO and Co-Founder of City Year Michael Brown; Dean of City Year Charlie Rose; Vice President and Regional Director Stephan Spaloss; Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz; and his father, the creator of the Timberland brand, Sidney Swartz. Star-struck, I listened to their emotional out-pour of love and appreciation for each other; for the family they had become; for all they had accomplished together. If love were a color, that color would be a swirl of City Year red and Timberland-boot yellow, and that circle would have been completely engulfed in it. I felt so present in this moment. It was exhilarating – and it made me understand something I had been grasping at but hadn’t quite taken hold of.
City Year has offered me countless opportunities to be surrounded by some of the most inspirational people on this planet. Unfortunately, I don’t have a knack for remembering all of the incredible things these people say. And while I tell myself to write them down, I’m usually too enthralled in their words to remember to do that. But what I always take with me is how I felt in those moments. How feelings of gratitude and love transform into tears, sniffles, and a quivering lip. Admiration takes shape in my intense focus on the speaker. It’s as if each heartbeat, breath or blink sends more inspiration, passion and empowerment through my body. In these moments, I realize just how alive I feel with City Year.
Everything feels more real; things make more sense; and the world is a better place.