The Roots

By: Jackie Gibbs

Red jackets flared left and right with all of the hustle and bustle of the corps as we excitedly prepared the Hamilton Elementary Gym for Parents, Friends, and Family Night (PFF). Anticipation had built up inside of me as I waited almost impatiently for my family to arrive. Naturally, I got “the call” from my mom saying that they were going to be running late, however, my anxiety was regenerated with joy as soon as my mom and “the babies” (my siblings) came pouring through the doors and into my arms.

Since becoming apart of City Year, I’ve been immersed in my new devotion of serving along with the responsibilities of living everyday life and I haven’t been able to really share with my family what exactly it is that I’m doing with City Year. Because I dedicated my red bomber to my family, it was both important and meaningful for me to educate them on the service I am doing by having them present. PFF night gave me the opportunity to “show and tell” my new fidelity.

We opened with unity rally and for my family, as well as the other families, I’m sure in all, the uniform, the chants, and the ray of energy was quite an eye opener to a “new culture”. I remember looking into the crowd at my family, gesturing them to join in, and laughing at the awkward faces they gave me in return, because that’s exactly how I must have looked when I saw City Year demonstrate unity rally for the first time. Though strange as it may be, it shows the unity between us.

Having always had an interest in art, there were always crafts around the house while I was growing up. During college I achieved an art minor in which I explored various techniques of art such as sculpturing, drawing, painting, and ceramics. Since I began serving with City Year, I’ve assisted with painting murals and facilitating craft activities during after school. I was thrilled to be a part of designing the programs for PFF night and felt accomplishment in having the ability to share things I love to do, that I’ve learned in home and in school, with City Year. Having my family recognize this was even more rewarding.

It begins in the home, develops in school, and continues with City Year: The idea that the things each individual learns at home and in school contribute to our individuality as well as our development and desire to give back to the community.

And it’s true. Growing and learning as a child I saw numerous ways that others in our community helped my family in times of need. Whether it was lending my mom a hand with us kids, providing us with grocery gift cards, or helping out with the gifts around Christmas time, it was the generosity of the people in our community that made a better childhood experience possible. Those who helped my family out during my childhood founded the stepping-stones of community in my life, which I gladly continue to build by choosing to give a year with City Year.


City Year, a parent’s perspective

In light of City Year Columbus’s Parents Friends and Family Weekend, this article is written About City Year from a parent’s perspective. Jeff and Judi are parents of City Year Cleveland Alum, Kate League, and current City Year Columbus Senior Corps Member, Jeff League.

When our son Jeff asked us to write about City Year from a parent’s point of view, we thought back to the year 2006.  It was then that our daughter, Kate, told us that she wanted to join City Year Cleveland.  Once we learned what the program was about, we realized it would be a perfect fit for Kate. Newly graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College and fresh from suburbia, Kate has always had a wide streak of altruism.

So when Jeff told us that he wanted to be a part of City Year Columbus after graduating from Ohio State, we were very pleased and proud. Jeff, too, has a strong social conscience and enjoys service work. As with his sister, we knew City Year would be a good place for him.

As parents, you try to instill a sense of values in your children as they grow up.  City Year has done nothing but reinforce these values in our kids.  There are many lessons to be learned during a year of service……here are a few:

There is more to life and to personal satisfaction than graduating, getting a well-paying job and making a great deal of money. City Year is all about hard work. There is physical labor like building a playground in Columbus or building houses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  There is also a great deal of mental and emotional work.  Kate and Jeff worked in schools in the inner-city with students who needed some extra help.  While this proved challenging to both of them, the intrinsic rewards they felt seeing their students achieve success were much more than they anticipated.

A very positive result of their experience with City Year was their exposure to cultural diversity, something that you don’t always find in the suburbs. It gave them a wider perspective and an appreciation for all cultures. Their lives have been immeasurably enriched by, not only the other corps members, but also the children and school personnel with whom they have worked.

Our children grew in many positive ways because of their City Year experience.  Learning to budget time and managing money were two skills they acquired that will benefit them their whole life.  Working a long City Year day included tutoring students, supervising recess, after school programs and field trips and helped prepare them for life after City Year.

While attending City Year functions, we often heard corps members say they wanted to give back.  City Year provides many opportunities to do this.  Our kids have learned that one person can make a difference.   We are grateful for the experiences that City Year has afforded them and are very proud of our kids.