Recently we had a chance to catch up with 24 year old Oceanside, Long Island native and City Year New York alum Rick Wolfsdorf. Rick was nominated to be on the Governor Paterson’s Inaugural New York State Youth Service Commission along with 16 other civically engaged young people. Rick served at PS 57 in Harlem first as a corps member in 2006-2007 and then as a Service Leader,where he led a team of corps members in 2007-2008.
CYNY: Hey Rick! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. I’ve heard you’ve been pretty busy since you left City Year last June.
RW: Good to speak with you, thanks for the call. This past summer I took a few weeks off and then worked at a summer sports camp as a counselor. I’ve started grad school at Molloy to earn a master’s degree in Elementary and Special Education while also working as a graduate assistant for Professor Maddie Gunn. I’m also tutoring middle school students at Roosevelt Middle School.
CYNY: All that work and you decided to join Governor Paterson’s State Youth Service Commission?
RW: It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I’m on the Commission and we get to help the state come up with creative ideas about how to engage 15-25 year-olds in community service. We had our first meeting in Albany and we met with representatives from Children for Children, AmeriCorps and other groups throughout New York. Don’t worry; I’ve already spoken very highly about City Year.
CYNY: Thanks for the love in Albany. Now that you’ve had some time away from your City Year experience, do you have any new perspective on your time with City Year?
RW: I’ve realized that my two years [at CYNY] were the biggest learning experience of my life. I miss the people that I worked with in the organization, the schools and most of all the kids of PS 57. I don’t miss the crazy commute schedule and the long hours! It really wasn’t easy!
CYNY: You served two years with CYNY; Anything about the transition from corps member to service leader that surprised you?
RW: Absolutely; it was tough for me to realize that as a service leader my service wasn’t for the schoolchildren, it was for the team. Tutoring and mentoring the kids at PS 57 was what drove me during my corps year. Also I’m a laid back guy, being in charge of a team of 17-24 year olds made me step out of my comfort zone and take more of a leadership role than I may have taken as a corps member.
CYNY: Have you been active with the City Year alumni groups?
RW: I get the monthly email updates and I came back to speak on a City Year alumni panel in Harlem back in October. I’m planning on volunteering at MLK Day and the One Harlem Service Day next spring.
CYNY: Any other plans for you?
RW: I’m really excited to be on the Commission, I hope to stay on track with finishing school and I’m planning on continuing to serve my community and my country. Next spring I’m leading a group of Molloy students on an alternative spring break to New Orleans to work with Habitat for Humanity.
CYNY: Thanks Rick. Keep up the good work and we look forward to seeing you at some of our events.
RW: No problem. I want to send a big shout out to the kids at PS 57.