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Dear Prospective City Year Families,

My first thought upon hearing the news that my daughter was accepted into the City Year program in San Antonio, Texas for the 2014-2015 service year was “Yay!”

My next thought was, “Oh no,” as I realized my 18-year-old daughter  would be living by herself, far from home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

My daughter is nothing if not organized and resourceful, so she immediately began the gathering information to prepare herself, and her father and me for her upcoming move. The most pressing concern was finding housing, which is arranged individually by each City Year AmeriCorps member. My daughter spent some time on City Year San Antonio’s Facebook group for incoming corps reading about those who also joined the program and were looking for possible housemates.

We all decided that it would be best for her if she could live with some older City Year AmeriCorps members, as she had no experience negotiating leases or dealing with landlords and property managers. Two young women, who recently graduated from college invited her to live with them. For her father and me, that was a big relief, knowing that she would be living on her own for the first time with experienced young women. One of these young women also took the initiative to be the “lead” in locating a suitable apartment and getting to the city a few days early to sign the lease and put down the deposit.

My daughter’s new roommates also had their own cars; another big advantage in San Antonio.

When my daughter recieved her school assignment a few weeks into her City Year basic training academy, her apartment was more than 20 miles from her school. The most challenging aspect of not having her own car was that she was dependent on other colleagues to give her rides to and from service.  On those days when her her a teammate was sick or otherwise unable to drive her, she took public transportation. But the journey was long and not for the faint of heart. Roundtrip commute on the bus took about five hours—turning her normal 11 hour workday into 16 hours!

It takes a sensitive and dedicated person to understand, and deal with, the myriad of barriers that the students they serve face. With all the training provided by City Year, my daughter was still stretched to her limits when figuring out how to support her students who were acting out, experience extremely challenging home lives.Through all the challenges, the only tears my daughter shed during her service year were born out of the realization that as much as she wanted to help these young people, some things were truly out of her control. 

The City Year experience has been invaluable in helping my daughter define her career interests and academic path. She is now a freshman in college! She has identified human service policy as her academic major, with the hope of working to change the policies schools, social programs, and the juvenile justice system.So many students have no idea what career they want to pursue until they have graduated college and are in the working world. It’s truly amazing how City Year helped my daughter discover her career ambitions at such a young age. By participating in City Year, my daughter has learned, grown, stretched, loved, cried, rejoiced, cared, for her students. She will forever be touched by her students and her experience.

Thank you City Year.

Meredith McGehee


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