be_ixf;ym_202110 d_15; ct_50 Learn more about City Year’s response to COVID-19

Alumni Service Event and Reunion – Event Day

TCF 14 team member, Jake Smith, leads his volunteers in designing Jenga and memory bench pieces.

Part #1: Opening Ceremony

This Alumni event was such a new experience for Care Force, finally after years we were able to put together something special for the previous teams and former staff members, the first ever alumni event, virtual of course! Having it virtual made it more accessible to those who live around the US and internationally. We opened the zoom call at 6:50 to give everyone some time to chat with each other and get adjusted to the space. While people were logging in, we presented a slideshow of pictures of the events TCF has done over the years.

We opened the event with some kind and welcoming words from Charlie Rose, followed up by a welcome back from Ted Marquis. After the big introduction, TCF 14’s Avery Brick lead us through some Care Force trivia to test the knowledge of the alumni. With a plethora of fun and insightful questions, it captured the spirit of the purpose of this event.

After an information packed introduction, Elizabeth Altier went over the logistics of the event. This included what type of service the alumni were participating in and the dynamics of the virtual space. She covered the three types of service which included virtual only, ship and deliver, and create and send. Within these categories we had service activities such as creating MadLibs, virtual escape room creation, designing a block for a memory bench, and a few other fun activities!  After a quick walk-through of service, we wrapped up the opening ceremony and the alumni were off to reconnect and participate in their hour of service.

 

Part #2: During the event

Welcome to our breakout group! Project Coordinators welcome their volunteers into a breakout space where the service projects began. Our alumni surprised us by coming in masses, we had 80 out of 117 alumni sign up for the event! This meant we were able to hold seven different breakout spaces with five different service project options.

Three of our five service options were virtual only, no-touch, service projects. This means that the projects we led our volunteers in, were purely online. We did not need to send them any supplies in the mail, this has been a popular service option amid a pandemic. TCF contacted ACMs at partner schools across the country to find out what deliverables would be most useful for them to use in the classroom. We then used that feedback to form the service that ended up at City Year partner schools in Sacramento, Philadelphia, Manchester, DC and Memphis.

  1. Virtual service option number one was creating Mad Libs centering around social justice, historical events, science, and social emotional learning. Students will be able to use these stories to reinforce parts of speech as well as learn about other topics relevant to their learning.
  2. Virtual service option number two was creating virtual backgrounds for students and ACMs. The backgrounds we created followed the themes of celebrating student or ACM achievements and avatars the students could use to represent their current emotional state.
  3. Virtual service option number three was creating escape rooms using google forms. These escape rooms were developed by teams of volunteers in tandem. They put together questions that would reinforce topics such as dividing decimals, fractions, social justice, and social emotional learning.

Our remaining two service options were packed into boxes by a socially distanced, masked, Team Care Force. We allowed participants to pick up their boxes at City Year Headquarters or if they were not local, we mailed them their supplies. During the event volunteers unpacked paint, sharpies and pre-cut wood to create a mural bench designed by our very own Hugh Harlow and a giant Jenga set to be donated to the Oasis on Ballou, an urban farm located in the southern Boston neighborhood of Dorchester (see this post for more information on our service with the farm) A second set of volunteers unpacked soil, seeds, planters, sharpies and a blank puzzle to create planter kits and fun puzzles that were then donated in the participants local community.

Volunteers in the breakout spaces were lively and wonderful to talk to. We were all able to share experiences from our time serving on Team Care Force and marveled at how much has changed since TCF #1. Leading these groups felt very different than normal. Since everyone in the group had been a part of Care Force in the past, we were able to ask for advice, hear about shared experiences and learn how being a part of TCF has shaped the rest of their lives. As time wore away and we discussed roses and thorns from the day, I realized even though I had never met the individuals in my group, we were connected by something deep. “Thank you for your time, energy and support! I’ll see you back in the larger Zoom space for our closing program!”

TCF 14 team member, Avery Brick, leads volunteers in creating planting kits.

 

Part #3: Closing Ceremony

Once all volunteers returned to the larger breakout space, I could see their excitement through their webcams. The next portion of the night was dedicated to reuniting the past TCF teams in a breakout space with all their old team members. However, before that could happen, we had some wrap ups to take care of. Team Care Force member Jake Smith closed out our service by reflecting on the service we had completed in the past hour. Just like any other service event we had volunteers fill out surveys and share their takeaways from the service they had just completed. We had so many excited share backs like “I loved being able to see everyone again” and “It reconnected me to the cause that changed my life”.

After our share backs ended, the original Team Care Force leader Ted Marquis had some words to share with the whole group. Ted reflected on the legacy of Care Force, how it started from an optimistic concept and transformed into a flourishing network of idealists. It was a powerful moment when all the alumni were in one space thinking back about their unique experiences. I could see thoughts and emotions flying around in the faces of all the previous Team Care Force members, even through their webcams.

Once reflections were over and Ted had thanked everyone for showing up and serving, the alumni were then sent off into their individual teams. For many of the teams this was one of few opportunities they had to reconnect with all their teammates in one place. During service you could sense the giddiness in the alumni to get the chance to reconnect and laugh with their team. As the current Team Care Force, we hopped off the call at that point, as we get to connect with each other every day still.

The idea behind this event was to engage in service while also bringing our network together in one place, but we accomplished more than that. We discovered a way to bring our alumni together despite being scattered across the country and use our service-based mindsets for a cause greater than self. If TCF 14 leaves behind a lasting imprint I hope that this alumni event continues for years to come. We as TCF 14 have developed a special sense of appreciation for the connection between team members because of our unique experience. Once my team has become TCF alumni I can’t wait to participate and serve in this event in whatever shape or form it takes on.

The completed memory bench with pieces designed by TCF alumni.

 

TCF 14 team members building the large Jenga set at Oasis on Ballou.

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