Written by Macey Elser, City Year AmeriCorps Member serving on the Rockwell Automation Team at Rogers Street Academy

When I traveled back home to Indianapolis earlier this year, I attended church with my family where I listened to someone speak about the importance and value of the word ‘for.'  Since I was reminded of this concept when I was surrounded by friends and family who had so many City Year related questions, these questions made me stop and think about the work we do everyday and what we are FOR.

The word ‘for’ seems like an unimportant preposition, and is almost always overlooked when reading or speaking. But in reality, ‘for’ defines you. For example, during political campaigns all taglines follow the same formula: candidate name FOR president or senator or mayor. It also defines your platform and what you support; what you are FOR will bind you and your future decisions. Candidates are running FOR your vote. The word FOR is important to everyone, even if you have no political aspirations.

So what are you FOR? What am I FOR? When asked what you stand for, one immediately thinks about hot-button issues most often associated with political ties, while the question ‘what do you LIVE for’ conjures up images or ideas of experiences that you’ve had or want to have.

The most important FOR question is ‘WHO do you live for?’ The response for most would be family, friends, a mentor or someone you want to make proud. People also live FOR themselves, not in a negative or selfish way, but they do what makes them happy. But living for ourselves cannot be all we live for. The heart of service and volunteerism orients our actions FOR other people.

Collectively what are we, as City Year, for? We are FOR the city of Milwaukee, the students in our schools and our community. We are FOR empathy as we strive to deepen understanding across cultural and social divides. We are FOR inclusivity as we embrace differences and celebrate diversity to empower, value and engage all people. City Year is FOR service to a cause greater than self and teamwork as we dedicate ourselves to social change and equality. City Year is unequivocally FOR the betterment of our society through inclusion and growth.

Too often people are known for what they are against and what they dislike, but instead be known for what you stand FOR.  So . . . what are YOU for?

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