City Year’s idealistic culture includes a growing collection of stories and quotations from many cultures that we call “Founding Stories.” These Stories, which we consider to be gifts to our organization, are a foundation for our work and provide values to guide us, set us on course and remind us of the most fundamental motivations for our work.
We share the Founding Stories with each other often and apply them to our work each and every day. We would like to share The Bridge Builder Founding Story with you.
The Bridge Builder
– Will Allen Dromgoole
An old man, going a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and gray
To chasm, vast and deep and wide
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
The sullen stream had no fears for him
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near
“You are wasting strength with building here
Your journey will end with the ending day
You never again must pass this way
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pit-fall be
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
Bridge building is a powerful metaphor and tool for social change. Seeing and making connections, whether among people or ideas, is a hallmark of bridge builders, whose lives are rooted in values and who dedicate their time and energy to causes larger than themselves.
Bridge builders bring out the best in others by connecting resources and talents to great and worthy causes, especially anticipating the needs of future generations. They use the wisdom and experience they have gleaned for the benefit of others, even those whom they may never meet.