Today’s guest blogger is Jon Kirsch, Corps Member on the New York Civic Engagement Team (NYCE).
On Thursday, July 25, City Year New York and Barclays began the first of three powerful days of service at elementary school P.S. 17Q in Long Island City, Queens. City Year New York and Barclays enjoy a long and celebrated history of collaboration of service, and Thursday’s kickoff service day continued the tradition in grand fashion with a remarkable group of volunteers and supportive school staff.
The transformation was breathtaking; to see the difference a few hours of service can have on a space is truly inspiring, and is one of the most rewarding aspects of my City Year experience so far. The school courtyard, once a Spartan blacktop with fading painted graphics on the brick walls, became completely revamped with the technicolor splendor of new playground graphics and designs. A brightly colored compass now adorns the pavement; a vivid yellow and orange maze is featured as well. In little more than an hour, the courtyard scarcely resembled its former condition, taking on a new vitality and sense of wonder. I wish I was a student at that school, just so I could experience the fun that that courtyard now has to offer.
Of course, none of this could be possible without the incredible contribution made by the Barclays volunteers. Over a hundred volunteers came out to serve with us, and they brought their “A” game to the work they accomplished on this inspired day. The pictures taken during their service truly capture the smiles, fun, and satisfaction each of them got out of giving their time to serve the Long Island City community.
The superb effort on the part of City Year New York’s senior corps team also contributed to the success of the day. Their levelheadedness, competence in leading others, and positive outlook were a shining reminder of the impact that City Year can have on a community when it does its job to its fullest capability. Every single person involved in the day performed outstandingly, and it feels good to represent City Year to this caliber.
The principal, Rebecca Heyward, was awed by the scope and quality of the work. She nearly broke into tears when she addressed the Barclays crowd at the end of the day, with endless praise for the level of transformation witnessed after only one out of three service days in total. Our work at P.S. 17Q was even more significant when considered in light of the fact that recess is a new addition to the school day at that school, and our efforts have given the students even more to be excited about when they get to enjoy their time outside. Can you ask for a better service day? Five stars.
*UPDATED* – Also check out Barclays Day 2: Transforming Recess