be_ixf;ym_202312 d_11; ct_100 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

Akin Gump in Action (East Harlem, NY) 2019

Akin Gump in Action Chronicle (East Harlem, NY) 2019

“Oh my goodness! I get to go to New York?!” I was extremely excited and a nervous wreck at the thought of being able to go to New York. Sightseeing in NY had been on my bucket list since I moved to Boston to be a part of the Care Force team. However, I never imagined that I would travel there for a service event. I especially had no idea that I would somehow find the strength to travel alone three days ahead of our scheduled time and wander around the city. Being a huge introvert this was a daunting challenge, but one that I had to take on. And thus began my first solo adventure in a new, and very large, city.

A chalkboard sign with the words "May your day be as wonderful as the first sip of coffee" sits next to a ledge covered with various types of plants.
A sign outside of one of the various café shops that I visited, which also had a plant shop inside.

The sole benefit of traveling solo in New York was being in charge of the schedule and deciding what I wanted to see. On the first day of my adventure, I visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and became a wanderer for two hours while trying to find the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian entrance. It wasn’t until I had given up all hope, that I found it by complete accident. But that is where my adventures began the following day. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, into the city for a day filled with endless subway rides, coffee house visits and many stops to take pictures of everything. I visited a lot of the common tourist spots like Times Square, Battery Park, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 9/11 Memorial, the High Line, Hudson Yards and the New York Public Library’s historic Rose Main Reading Room.

New York Public Library with people walking around the sidewalk in front.
Exterior of New York Public Library, where the historic Rose Main Reading Room can be found.

Before I knew it, our week of prep had begun, and I was excited to begin our work at P.S. 206 Jose Celso Barbosa. There was a lot of work we needed to get done before event day. But like PITW #13, *bing* “Every important task gets a team,” we had a great team ready to get started. Because we had many events planned with our corporate partner Akin Gump taking place in various cities around the country, our Care Force team was split up. Sam Sadlier, Senior Program Manager, Mark Johnson and I were in East Harlem, New York. We were joined by Douglas Otte, Care Force alumni TCF#10, Ylia Wilson, DC Civic Engagement Program Manager, and Farida Jawando, Regional Recruitment Coordinator, Northeast. I was excited that Farida was joining us, since this would be her first service trip.

City Year’s Farida Jawando, Regional Recruitment Coordinator for the Northeast, using a roller to prime during her first project with Care Force.
City Year’s Farida Jawando, Regional Recruitment Coordinator for the Northeast, using a roller to prime during her first project with Care Force.

We quickly got to work scuffing up the bathroom stalls and giving them a few coats of primer. While this was going on at the school, Farida and I went out on errands to get all the items that were needed. We purchased paint from Home Depot, art supplies from Michaels and food items for our lunches from Target. I was fearful of driving in the city and after this trip I have made up my mind; I don’t ever want to drive in NYC again. We sketched lots of images and quotes onto canvases as well as some on the restroom stalls that we had primed. It was fun connecting with new friends and doing our best to get the school ready for the volunteers that would arrive on Thursday. A special shout out to our friends on the NYCE team, New York Civic Engagement team, who I got to work with once again. They had helped us out on two events earlier in the year and it was nice to see them again. Stephen Lyne, CY New York Civic Engagement Program Manager, and Senior AmeriCorps members Jake McDonald, Aziz Ali, Garret Adams, Ima Lucas, and Karem Vidal came out on Wednesday to help us finish the prep work and be project co-leaders on the day of the event.

Then it was finally event day. Even though the day started out with some rain showers, the smiles from the volunteers helped to brighten the day. With a positive can-do attitude we accomplished many tasks. The restrooms on the second and fourth floors received a fresh coat of paint and four murals were painted on the stalls. In the center stairwell, volunteers painted a colorful geometric stripe on the walls as well as three quotes on each landing. Lastly, 25 canvas murals were completed to add more color to the school. And just like that we added another successful event to our year.

Recently painted bathroom stalls with murals.
Volunteers did not stall and got to work quickly on beautifying the bathrooms.
Canvases painted with quotes and profiles of various individuals.
Canvas murals were painted with various inspiration leaders from across the decades.







This service trip will forever be in my memories as one of the most exciting trips that I went on with Care Force. I had so many new adventures and got to connect with old friends and even made a few new ones. It was filled with lots of laughter, love for service and making the world a better place. And that is the main reason why I have continued with City Year for three years. Never have I come across such a large group of people from diverse backgrounds, who value service and helping to better their community. I truly have enjoyed my service years, and am happy with the person I have become. #makebetterhappen

Originally published 12/10/2019

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