When my alarm goes off at 5 am every morning, sometimes I forget why in the world I signed up for City Year. Why did I decide to dedicate a year of my life to exhausting hours and little pay? The answer comes quickly though when I think of an important lesson my older sister taught me. She is both visually impaired and mentally disabled, and her perseverance and optimism have taught me that it’s not what obstacles life has given you, but what you make of the life you’re given that matters.
So in my life, I’ve decided that I want to be a part of the change to make the world a better place. That is why I set my alarm to wake up and go serve at PS 48, an elementary school in the South Bronx. To see students smile as we give them high-fives, and hear them shout, “I’m learning!”
Every time I watch my team work together to take on the challenges of tutoring students or preparing lessons for our after school program, I watch the power of change multiply in front of my eyes on a micro-level. But imagine this: our team of 12 is only a fraction of the 250 corps members that serve in New York City, and NYC is only one of 20 City Year sites across America. Together there are more than 1,700 City Year corps members serving across the nation, and our organization is only one of the hundreds of non-profits committed to transforming the high-school dropout crisis.
This coming MLK Day of Service, on January 17th, City Year New York is engaging more than 1,200 volunteers for a full day of transformative physical service in East New York. With this many individuals dedicated to transforming a community for only one day, imagine the impact we could have if people remembered to give back and serve others on a more regular basis. MLK Day is a great start though. This new year, let’s remember that we are the change. Let’s make it happen.
by Meredith Nowikowski ’11, Team Leader at PS 48.