A Mom’s Reflection On City Year

The mother of a corps members wanted to share how her son’s “city year” has impacted her, their family, and others. Below is the City Year pledge which will help provide some context. Enjoy.

I pledge to serve as a City Year corps member to the very best of my ability, to honor the rules and expectations of City Year, to respect my colleagues and the 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.

To honor the rules…

I watch and admire as Andy becomes familiar with City Year via the website and portal for new corps members.  He’s agreed to live with two roommates –from St. Louis and Florida respectively. He finds an apartment, signs up for utilities, cable, internet, and food stamps. He fills out all the necessary paperwork to defer his college loans.  He furnishes the apartment (together Andy and I rent a small moving van and move unused furnishings from our house to his apartment.)  Andy does most of the work on his own in spite of my constant offers to help.  AMAZING!

To respect my colleagues….

Andy welcomes his new roomies (Byron and Henny, aka, “the boys”) and they become fast friends. He respects and honors the differences between them and learns about their families, histories, expectations, hopes and dreams.  Andy proudly introduces them to the family.  We, too, are instantly fond of the boys and they are, these 10 months later, important members of our family.  In all honesty, it’s the big family my kids and I always dreamed of. AMAZING!

To lead by example…

Andy and the boys settle into their busy work routine and are instantly transformed by the students in their classes. Ever eager to be a  helping hand.  Proud of the teachers and ever helpful. Tired.  Reading more books.  Drinking less beer.  Cooking, cleaning, and inviting other corps members to dinners and cook outs.  Playing hoops together on the weekends.  After school projects. Making commitments to their students in meaningful ways.    Holiday cards come in December to Mr. Andy.  The students are just so happy to have him in their lives and thank him for being so nice and helpful.  I tear up writing these words.  AMAZING!

To serve with open heart and open mind…

Red jackets and Timberland boots signify Andy’s and the boy’s commitment to serve openly and with conviction.  Andy is maturing and is vocal about the need to help others and quiet about his politics and religion.  He sees the world with greater vision and inclusiveness.  AMAZING!

To be quick to help and slow to judge…

Andy and the boys strive to help others in and out of the class room.  At Easter, the boys join me at church and I am bursting with pride for being able to sit in the sanctuary with my big family.  The pastor blurts out a judgmental statement and the boys shiver with giggles.  In their world, we are all one and the same.  There is no racial or economic divide and their giggles attest to the old-fashioned attitudes that still prevail.  As we leave the service, they keep those thoughts to themselves and walk out with great pride.  AMAZING!

To do my best…

To say that Andy and the boys have changed my family is in no way big enough a statement to express how they have changed us.  We are in awe of their ability to give and to live simple lives with very little money or time to do the “fun” stuff their friends are doing.  But they simply don’t care.  They are ever happy, smiling, content, dreaming of their futures and ways that they will continue to serve and help others.  And they are always at their best.  The CY affirmations, meetings, encouragement from their peers and their directors keep them focused on their purpose at City Year NH.  AMAZING!

To build a stronger community…

I know my three boys will continue to make their mark on their community and perhaps the nation and the world.  One small gesture at a time will create a mountain of goodness from which they will make a difference in their worlds.  I am sure of this. AMAZING!

A Final reflection…

I wish everyone would stop and take note of the actions of City Year.  I keep the pledge by my desk to keep me focused and to remember what my boys are doing every day.    All of us would live better and richer lives if we simply tried to live by the City Year Pledge.  In our homes, in our work places, and in the world at large, positivism would spread….hmmm.  Just a pipe dream I suppose.  But one thing I know for sure is that the City Year corps members will continue their work to keep that dream alive.  And that is simply AMAZING!

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About CityYear NH

City Year is a nonprofit that unites young people of all backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time service. As tutors, mentors, and role models, these idealistic leaders make a difference in the lives of children, and transform schools and neighborhoods across the US and in South Africa. For more information on how to get involved please call the City Year New Hampshire Recruitment hotline at 603-218-5101.
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