By: Judi Raines, proud parent of a 2016-2017 City Year Memphis AmeriCorps member
Service to cause greater than self is one of City Year’s values. As a parent and educator of at risk children, I have realized that to make a difference in their lives, you must be willing to sacrifice. When my daughter, Claudia, expressed her interest in becoming a teacher, I didn’t take this career choice lightly. I personally know the struggles in this profession and know how much dedication it takes to educate all children. To me, teaching is a calling. It is a call to serve. With this service, you must be willing to sacrifice to impact the lives of children who need it the most. I knew that AmeriCorps City Year program would be the best opportunity she could have that would truly help her prepare for a career in education.
My niece served for City Year in Chicago, as well as my friend’s daughter, who served in Los Angeles. Although I knew from their personal experiences how incredible this program was, it wasn’t until my own daughter decided to take a gap year after high school to pursue this opportunity in Memphis, Tennessee that I truly understood the benefits of this organization. As a parent, I was a little apprehensive about Claudia not attending college right after high school. What if she decided that she didn’t want to attend college after City Year? This has definitely not been the case. In fact, she has been counseled, advised, and trained with high quality professional development throughout her time in Memphis. The leaders in Memphis are also her personal mentors with her education. They have assisted her in finding the right college, applying for scholarships, and visiting campuses locally in the area. She has fallen in love with this community in Memphis and the City Year AmeriCorps Program. In fact, she may even stay there to continue her education at the University of Memphis, in hopes of becoming a teacher.
For parents who have children who are thinking of becoming a teacher or even those who are undecided, I would highly recommend this program.
While it may seem unconventional to not attend college right after high school, it was truly the best choice for my daughter. She has grown so much personally, as well as professionally. I know that her experiences with City Year has prepared her for the next step in life. The relationships she has developed have changed her in a positive way. She realizes the work she does is valuable and worthwhile. She loves the children she mentors and is completely dedicated to their growth. I have witnessed a positive change in her. She is more mature and is currently seeking a school that is the best fit for the career she wants to do. All of this would not be possible if it weren’t for the leaders and teachers at City Year. I owe them so much. I simply cannot express all of my gratitude for their guidance and support of Claudia. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The greatest gift life has to offer is the opportunity to work hard at a job worth doing”. I simply cannot imagine a greater opportunity for Claudia at this time in her life. Thank you City Year Memphis!! You are making a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the lives of your children, as well as in the lives of your volunteers!!