‘What Truly Matters’ – Preparing for Opening Day 2014

“A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. A man approached her and said, ‘Little girl, why are you doing this? You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!’ She bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, ‘Well, I made a difference to that one!’”

— (Segments) Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley

            Last year I served as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year in a 5th grade class. For me, coming to serve with City Year was about doing something that truly mattered.  Before I started, I didn’t really know what that meant; but once I began working with my students, I learned a lot about myself and I grew in ways I am just now coming to understand.  Whenever a student was frustrated or told me they couldn’t do it, I had to push myself to motivate them to give it another chance.  I leaped right past my comfort zone to learn how to plan and organize lessons for my students, how to lead a class (which, for the record, is a lot harder than it looks), and how to problem solve.  Most importantly, I learned how to step up and not only be there for my students but be what my students needed every day.  Through all of this I grew confident in my position and I realized I had the power to do all of this and more.

             When the work gets difficult and I question our ability to make a difference, I think of one of my 5th graders. He struggled with basic multiplication facts, was a couple grades behind in reading, and constantly doubted himself.  I worked with him all year but I wasn’t sure if we were really getting anywhere.  One day, my teammate told me he had spoken with my students’ mother who said my student had clearly become more motivated and invested in his work.  She said that he would talk about me all the time and the drawing I had made for him was not crumpled up somewhere but hanging on his bedroom wall.  I suddenly realized that just like the girl in the story, ‘I made a difference to that one.’  It was less about whether or not he knew multiplication facts and more about the irreplaceable bond we had forged together.

             Now I have my own team of AmeriCorps Members whose incredible journeys are just beginning.  They have only been in schools for a few weeks but are already forging lasting bonds with their students and their partner teachers. This Wednesday, we celebrate all that they will do and their commitment to service.   We get to hold this celebration at the one and only California State Capitol Building.  When I think about all the amazingly influential and important people who have come to the Capitol Building, all the developments and movements that happen there, it seems only fitting that our Opening Day will take place on its beautiful north steps.  We are all a part of the powerful change and growth happening in the Sacramento Community.  Our AmeriCorps Members are smart, creative, professional young leaders and Wednesday will officially kick off their year of service.  Opening Day gives us all the chance to come together to commit to service because this work we do truly matters.

Jenessa Irvine, Team Leader

Click here to RSVP for City Year Sacramento’s Opening Day Celebration on October 1st, 2014 on the North Steps of the California State Capitol Building.

We’ve changed some things

Notice our new look? With a new service year comes a fresh approach to the way we keep people informed. We’ve changed the appearance of our monthly newsletter, our blog, our style — really just about everything. What hasn’t changed is the fact that our AmeriCorps members are excited to share their year of service with you.

Be on the lookout for some great content coming your way.

Serve on!

Celebrating 20 Years of AmeriCorps

Since its inception 20 years ago, AmeriCorps has engaged Americans in intensive service at nonprofits, schools and other community organizations throughout the country. More than 900,000 people have taken the AmeriCorps pledge, with over 20,000 committing to serve through City Year.

City Year AmeriCorps members from Sacramento, San José/Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles gather to celebrate.
City Year AmeriCorps members from Sacramento, San José/Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles gather to celebrate.

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AmeriCorps Alum serving third year with City Year Sacramento

Kelly B
Kelly Besmer is in her third year serving communities across the United States.

Name: Kelly Besmer
Age: 22 years old
AmeriCorps Experience: NCCC FEMA Corps – North Central Region Base 2012-2013
City Year Sacramento – AmeriCorps Member 2013-2014
City Year Sacramento – Second Year AmeriCorps Member 2014-2015
Current School Service Site: Rosa Parks K-8
Team Sponsor: Bank of America

Why did you initially decide to take a year off of college and apply to become an AmeriCorps Member?

After completing my transfer degree from Bellevue College in 2012, I was not satisfied with my life. It felt stagnant and I could tell that without service it was incomplete! Yet, my intense focus on college classes and my job was limiting my ability to serve my country with an open heart and open mind… Continue reading

City Year Sacramento welcomes Deloitte executive Julie Quinn to advisory board

Julie Quinn, Deloitte's Sacramento Managing Director
Julie Quinn, City Year Sacramento’s newest advisory board member

City Year Sacramento is pleased to welcome its newest advisory board member, Julie Quinn. The advisory board comprises community leaders committed to increasing City Year’s impact in our region.

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UC Riverside Grad Takes On a Second Year of Service

Rajinder Dhaliwal - City Year SacramentoName: Rajinder Dhaliwal
Age: 23
College: University of California Riverside
Major: Political Science with a minor in English
School Site: Sacramento Charter High School

What made you apply to City Year?

During my time at college I never saw myself getting into the education field despite my years of tutoring at Badger Springs Middle School. As graduation approached I asked myself, “What do I want to do next year?” Continue reading

…if we are all in this together.

“Ubuntu ngumuntu ngamantu.” I am a person through other people. I am because you are. Without each other’s existence, there is no other.
– Zulu Proverb

City Year Academy – Ubuntu Night

12:09 a.m. — an interesting time to lie awake at City Year Summer Academy. The subway trains outside roll and grumble under Boston’s midnight sky while I stare upwards at a little painted constellation on my dorm room ceiling. Broken shapes of stars and crescents refer to a previous existence in this space and I wonder who that person could be. I also wonder about the thoughts of my fellow Team Leaders who may be just as restless as I am, thinking about the great social change we strive endlessly to achieve. Continue reading