On September 20th-22nd, Red Jacket Weekend in Boston reunited more than one-thousand alumni, partners, families and friends of City Year, to kick off our 25th anniversary year. There was a buzz of excitement and inspiration in the air as everyone came together to celebrate the impact and idealism of the past quarter century.
The weekend began at City Year Headquarters, where we welcomed back 350 alumni from all over the country to take a trip down memory lane. It was humbling to see so many familiar faces who still embody City Year’s values long after completing their year(s) of service.
Before the sun rose on Saturday, City Year Boston Staff and corps members were ready to kick off the Red Jacket events at The Hennigan School in Jamaica Plain. The day began with City Year Boston’s 25th Opening Day, when 265 corps members were sworn in by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Like many times before, Mayor Menino showed his appreciation to for the corps, “I asked teachers, ‘What’s the best part of your school?’” he said addressing the crowd of alumni, proud families and supporters. “They said, ‘The corps members.’”
When the Opening Day celebration came to an end, volunteers spread out across the Hennigan School grounds for a day of service and beautification. Around every corner, inside and outside the school, you could find a smiling supporter painting a mural, organizing school supplies, or tearing up weeds. Hennigan School teachers, students, and leaders saw the transformation when they returned on Monday morning.
“Please walk around with your students and see our beautiful new spaces, thanks to City Year and the volunteers. The colors, quotes, pictures, and college logos are inspirational and invigorating. What a beautiful new home!”- Hennigan School leadership in an email to teachers.
We ended Saturday with a giant outdoor festival, featuring live bands, games, a giant inflatable slide for kids and a climbing wall (for the bravest), as everyone celebrated the hard work of the volunteers and the City Year Boston corps members.
The positive energy generated on Saturday spilled over to Sunday morning, as City Year guests came together at the JFK Library and Museum in Boston for the 25th Anniversary Celebration Brunch, to learn about City Year’s future in Boston and beyond.
“America is America because of those who answered the call to serve,” said featured speaker Victoria Reggie Kennedy, as she spoke candidly to the audience. “Service is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is an American value.”
Red Jacket Weekend and City Year’s 25th Anniversary celebrations are sponsored by Bain Capital.
Photos by Elliot Haney