By Caitlin Dorrer serving on the DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson with Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School

Did I make the right decision?  About 2 months into service with City Year, I still wonder about my choice to join a cause greater than myself. My Impact Manager, Lucas Penzymoog, has been with City Year for four years, even moving from Wisconsin to serve in Boston, and still remains cheerful but serious about service. I decided to sit down with Lucas to better understand his commitment to service and my own. 

Lucas graduated college as a Community and Nonprofit Leadership major, and so City Year was a natural step. His sister even served for two years in Milwaukee, and Lucas noted the impact it had on them both.

Lucas Penzymoog (LP):  “I saw her become a different person through her service…more confident, able, and just more in tune with certain issues or currencies in the world that I was just starting to become aware of through my college education.” 

Initially, Lucas’ reasoning for joining City Year stemmed from his college career and hope for personal growth. Similarly, I joined City Year to help further myself in the field of education and to grow as a person.

When discussing the culture of City Year, Lucas was moved by the structural similarities to his college marching band. 

LP: “When I think about service, I can think about the marching band because you are one giant, cognizant organism. If you only have two people out on a marching band field it's going to be the least impressive thing you've ever seen. On the other hand, if you can get 300 people coordinated to do the exact same thing, at the exact same time, it's an incredible effect. I was looking for something that replicated that.” 

Inspired by the growth he made during his first year, and City Year as a whole, he came back during his senior corps year as a member of the Boston Civic Engagement (BCE) team which focuses on improving the physical spaces students in the Boston Public Schools use so that their environments mirror the high expectations set for them. 

LP: “I’ve worked in wood shops, done set for theatre, and my dad and I rebuilt most of my grandma’s house. I had that sort of construction experience and I wanted to stay with City Year but do something that I had been familiar with in the past.” 

Combining his love of service and construction abilities, Lucas was able to make service his own. Upon completeing his service year, Lucas made his way back to working in Boston Public Schools as an Impact Manager. 

LP: “After your senior corps year, you can become an Impact Manager in the schools, and give back to first year corps members.” 

In his role as an Impact Manager, Lucas helps to support the implementation of City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child model by leading first year corps members like myself through service.  
As Lucas recalled his years with City Year, I realized something: service is what you make it. It’s tough, maybe the most challenging personal opportunity I’ve ever undertaken; that can’t be changed. However, it could be the most rewarding, life-changing experience—if I want it to be. And I do. Also, those red jackets are a pretty sweet bonus.  

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