By Ayanna Ashley Doiron, '94, City Year Boston Alumni Board member
The guests have gone home, the paint has dried, and City Year Boston AmeriCorps members are serving fulltime in their schools. But for me, Red Jacket Weekend is never really over. Instead, it’s a reminder of how and why I want to stay engaged with City Year throughout the year.
As an alumna of the ’94 corps, my ‘city year’ of service definitely had an impact on my life. But as time passed, the connection I felt to City Year changed. Last year, after years of distance from the organization, I decided to attend the first Red Jacket Weekend and was amazed by how connected I felt. I was re-inspired, and I knew I wanted to continue to be a part of a larger organization that is so passionate about helping individuals, and in doing so, changing and supporting communities. I decided to get re-engaged, and ultimately joined the City Year Boston Alumni Board.
This year’s Red Jacket Weekend inspired me again, and I suspect it will every year. Here are three of my highlights from the weekend—and how they continue to inspire us—as alumni and champions of City Year—to stay connected.
First, the Alumni and Leadership Reception at the State Room was not only in a gorgeous location, it also had an equally impressive guest list. It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, while making new ones who share the same values of service and social justice. As an Alumni Board Member, I found it tremendously insightful to meet more of the people whom the Board represents—City Year alumni are some passionate and interesting people! For me, the Reception was an important reminder to keep coming to all kinds of City Year events because of the valuable personal and professional connections that are made there.
The next day’s Opening Ceremony focused on welcoming the corps into their official service roles. Seeing this year’s group take the pledge “to build a stronger community, nation, and world for all of us” reminded me of my own opening ceremony. I know these corps members are filling my boots, and I want to support them throughout this transformational year. That’s why I’m going to attend the corps member professional development event called 18 Minute Networking in January, and volunteer as an informal Life After City Year (LACY) advisor through the alumni website.
After the Opening Ceremony, my family and I were placed on a service project making resource kits for students at the Condon Elementary School, where the day’s events were held. Doing service with my children that would support others their own age was so meaningful. I really appreciate that City Year offered age-appropriate and engaging service projects—not to mention a fun Family Picnic at the end of the day! I’m looking forward to inviting even more friends and family to serve alongside me at Red Jacket Weekend next year. I’m also going to look for other ways to bring new people into the City Year community, whether that’s suggesting a young adult I know apply to the corps or inviting a colleague to 18 Minute Networking.
Reconnecting with City Year after last year’s Red Jacket Weekend was a great decision for me, and I hope you will join me in doing so this year. Whether you want to be first in line at every upcoming City Year event or engage in another way, or are an alum or non-alum, there are options for everyone. One way to start: join City Year corps members and staff at an upcoming Be The Change Breakfast at Headquarters, on October 9 or November 13. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about these and other events.