Today’s guest blogger is Jane Horowitz, Corps Member on the P.S. 345K team, serving in East New York, Brooklyn.
This past Saturday, the Bridge Builder zone, serving in Brooklyn, hosted a health and wellness fair for the community of East New York. Held at I.S. 302, Empower New York was an enormous success. Whole families turned out to run healthy food relay races, make bracelets, eat snacks, and hang out with their favorite City Year Corps Members.
To everyone in attendance, the event seemed effortless. However, a lot of preparation went into the day, with multiple teams meeting once a week or more for the last few months. Partnerships had to be formed with different organizations that would either provide resources for East New York families, or run engaging workshops on important topics. From zumba and yoga to a workshop on “Communication at Home,” no leaf was left unturned. Corps members had to work tirelessly to in-kind snacks, and to make personal phone calls to ensure that Empower New York would be well attended.
There were plenty of bumps along the way, and all involved were nervous that such a big event would fall flat. What if we have no food? What if my students don’t bring their families? What if there is no bouncy house? As May 4th crept closer, many of us felt the pressure and anxiety that all our hard work would be in vain. The entire zone began to arrive at 8:30 in the morning to start the set-up. There were balloons! There was masking tape!
There was heavy lifting galore! Everyone found some way to lend a helping hand. The weather was beautiful, and after a few hours the small parking lot outside of I.S. 302 had been transformed into a well-organized (and well-decorated) family fair. Yet still, as 12:00 quickly approached, we worried: now that we have built it, will they come?
As it turned out, no one was disappointed. Actually, many were pleasantly surprised. There was a steady stream of families arriving throughout the event. So steady, in fact, that the lines in front of the bouncy house and the face painting station did not disappear until the stations were shut down shortly before 5:00. At that time, everyone made their way over to the make-shift holding dock stage for the closing ceremony.
This performance was a particular highlight—a group of poised young women, matching in green cargo pants and black shirts, who had been brought together by corps member Cole Carothers.
All of the uniformed City Year members watching were beaming with pride, as we got to show off the kind of amazing opportunities that we get to organize and be a part of with our students.
As the event came to a close, the happily exhausted Bridge Builders gave one final push to clean up the space, and circled up to share joys of the day before heading home. It is safe to say that Empower New York can be accurately summed up in the words of a fourth grader from P.S. 345: “Best. Party. Ever.”