Why I <3 City Year

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, City Year posed this question: What do you love about City Year?

It seems funny to be asked this question because as a member of the village at City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, I feel like I am constantly being asked to think about how we can make City Year better for our corps members and how we can make their lives seem easier in some way.

A lot of times, people focus in on what is challenging about City Year; what sacrifices they have had to make to be here and how many hours they are asked to serve in a week.


This always makes me think of one of my favorite PITW’s:

PITW #158 It is a privilege for all of us to serve at City Year

When I think about my time with City Year, I don’t think about the sacrifices I’ve made. Sure, it is difficult to be 3,000 miles away from everyone I love. And yes, I could be making more money doing something else. But the challenge of City Year is what I love.

Every day I am asked to do something challenging. Whether it is leading a group of six-year-olds in a Starfish Corps lesson or figuring out how I can engage our stakeholders using social media, I am challenged.

As I serve, I not only remember how privileged I am to have the opportunity to be here, but how it relates to my personal leadership mission statement that I was asked to come up with on the beginning of my Idealist’s Journey.

Back in August I wrote,

As a leader, I will inspire others to serve through my actions and words. Not only will I constantly seek to challenge myself and develop, I will support and mobilize others to do the same.

I love City Year because it’s not easy. I love City Year because it has shown me what I am truly capable of. But mostly, I love City Year because it has not allowed me to settle for less.

Why I serve

Today I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to a group of executives from VMware, a Silicon Valley tech company, about why I have chosen to serve with City Year. We partnered with VMware today to brighten up the campus of Linda Vista Elementary School, which is a visual arts school in the Alum Rock School District.

This is what I shared with them before they began their service today:

I came to serve with City Year directly out of college because I was looking for a unique experience that would give me the opportunity to commit to community service full-time. Going into my second year of service, I have found that City Year has empowered me to take pride in the work I do every single day.

Last year as a first year corps member at Lee Mathson Middle School, which is one of our current school partners, I made it my mission to re-open their school library. When I arrived at Mathson, I learned that their library was in shambles. Books were completely out of order, many were simply strewn across the floor and even if students were able to find the book they were looking for, they were not allowed to check the book out because the books had not been entered into the new computer system.

I spent a huge part of my service year putting that library back in order, which meant completely reorganizing the books and putting the books in to the computer system by hand. Opening up that library for this school which a majority of the students read well below their grade level is probably one of the most important tasks I will ever accomplish.

As a recruitment project leader this year, it is my hope that I can bring idealistic young people to City Year and show them that they can be the solution to big problems and that they too can feel that same sense of purpose I’ve found in serving others.