Written by Kelsey Lineburg, Senior AmeriCorps Member proudly serving on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation team at Kenilworth Sciene and Technology Middle School.
Last year, Baton Rouge experienced the unexpected—a historic flood that shaped my service year into something I could have never imagined. This year, our neighbors in Texas, Florida and surrounding areas experienced their own natural disasters. Although our community was spared this time, I could not help but to feel the pain that these cities were experiencing. Not only will the City Year AmeriCorps Members serving in Texas and Florida be working as tutors and role-models this year, but they will also be serving in communities that are facing fear, pain, and loss. I remember all too clearly what this feels like.
I also remember what it feels like to receive an outpouring of love and support from City Year sites across the country. The banners and cards that we received last year were reminders that we were a part of a greater community—the Beloved Community.
This year at Summer Academy, our call to action was to ‘Build the Beloved Community’ within City Year. As PITW #91 *bing* states, “Building the beloved community is a journey that never really ends.” Therefore, just as sites across the country showed us support and love last year during our time of need, it was our call to action this year to continue that journey by showing support and love to those effected by the natural disasters.
Hours after the Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, first year AmeriCorps member Jalen Shelvin was reaching out to our team asking how City Year Baton Rouge could help. With the help of his team, Jalen organized a donation drive at Broadmoor High School to get the students and faculty involved in his mission to support the city of Houston. He said, “We started the flood drive because we felt like it was our personal mission to help in any way we could. I gathered a proposal to get this started and we, at Broadmoor High School, rallied the students up to donate anything they possibly could. Not realizing how great of a turnout we would have, we were able to fill an entire truck with items, proving that help is in the heart of Broadmoor High School.”
My team at Kenilworth Science and Technology Middle School wanted to get our students involved by creating a banner filled with encouraging notes to send to City Year Miami. It was a beautiful thing to watch our students take their time in writing messages to a community in which they have never met but understand all too well what they are going through. As one student wrote, “Stay safe, be kind, and don’t forget to keep your head up."
City Year Baton Rouge sends their love and support to every city and individual affected by natural disasters this year. We love you all.