As a proud City Year Columbia alum (and current staffer), the concepts of Strong Circle Day and “One City Year” are the same to me: unity in service to a cause greater than self.

We can all come together from different pasts, presents, and futures to join forces in an effort to #makebetterhappen for those we serve. It is our differences that unite us, empower us, and allow us to make a difference – and that is truly a beautiful thing.

When I first reflected on Strong Circle Day and on memories of my service, I immediately thought back to my first service year at W.A. Perry Middle School with my small but mighty team of 4 AmeriCorps members. That year truly changed me for the better, and I genuinely believe my team had a lasting impact both on the school and our students.

The memory I chose to share was in honor of my Team Leader, Roosevelt, whose leadership I now so deeply respect – even if we did refer to him as “Dad” every day.

Roosevelt coordinated with Communities in Schools to host a One Columbia service project at our middle school, and got inkind donations from across the city to fund our STEM courtyard beautification project – to give our students a beautiful place to reflect and learn, as well as allow them to have a hand in creating it.

Pictures courtesy of Roosevelt Corbett.

But, of course, the more I thought about my service years, the more memories I had:

When Caroline kindly took the time to find a summer job for one of her most struggling students, and helped him complete an application.

When Sabrina gave special attention to a student who suffered the loss of her younger brother during the school year, and showed unyielding love to all her students.

When Lindsey came up with the idea to engage our 3rd and 4th graders in college-style learning through City Year University.

When Stone got to show his true (and hilarious) colors as a “professor” of Theatre.

When Talesa helped her students put on a performance to learn more about Black History.

When Zack put up pictures of himself all over the CY room, before coming back to serve another year.

When Ashley and Chantelle were #dointhemost with their CY freestyle (and with most everything else!)

When Will wrote us each personal message-in-a-bottles, not to be opened until after graduation -- because of course we were all going to finish out the year strong.

And so many more. I had the privilege of serving two years with some incredible people, and couldn’t be more grateful for each and every one of them. To me, Strong Circle Day means rippling out these opportunities and experiences, and sharing with others to truly "grow the circle".
I am a proud City Year AmeriCorps alum and I am honored to stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, and who will come after me. Join me in sharing your story, and help Grow The Circle!


Written by Kaitlin Nichols, City Year Columbia Corps '12-'13, '13-'14

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