City Year New Hampshire Celebrates 20 Years of Service Alongside Senator Hassan, Congressman Pappas, Mayor Craig, Manchester Students, and Community Supporters
By Jackie Trexler, Development AmeriCorps VISTA.
On September 13th at McDonough Elementary School, City Year New Hampshire officially kicked off our 20th year of service at our Opening Day celebration! Opening Day is always a special occasion for us at City Year as it marks the official launch to our year of service, but this particular celebration has been 20 years in the making, and so we decided to commemorate the occasion in a slightly different way.
The McDonough Elementary School gym has probably seen many pep rallies, but certainly never one with so many City Year red jackets and so much idealism packed in. Colorful streamers, pompoms, and signs could be seen everywhere, and guests brought their own joy and energy to the celebration. Among our guests were friends, family members, community supporters, and students from Northwest Elementary School, Parker-Varney Elementary School, and McDonough Elementary school, three of the schools we serve in.
We were also joined by some of New Hampshire’s most steadfast champions of service and education, including Mayor Joyce Craig, Congressman Chris Pappas, Superintendent John Goldhardt, and Comcast NBCUniversal representative Sara Dionne, each of whom shared encouragement and inspiring remarks with corps and crowd alike.
“We see a group of individuals before us in their red jackets who have decided to take time out of their lives to be of service, and that is a powerful thing,” Congressman Pappas remarked. “The collective talent and passion in this room has the potential to impact the lives of thousands more beyond just the students of Manchester. The work you’re doing here in McDonough and in other Manchester schools is going to be felt throughout this community and in communities throughout our state for decades to come.”
But perhaps the most significant part of our Opening Day were our AmeriCorps members delivering their “I Serve” statements. Every City Year AmeriCorps member puts their intentions, aspirations, and commitments into their own personal “I Serve” statement, which is then shared with their community at Opening Day. This year, the statements were made all the more powerful because they were delivered in the presence of the very students we serve. Here are some examples of what our AmeriCorps members had to say.
“I serve to water plants that will bloom into future leaders, teachers, doctors, presidents, engineers, and more. I serve so these beautiful people can also go on to water plants and serve in our world.” – Yamah Dolo
“I serve because change isn’t just a dream for tomorrow, but something to fight for today.” – Nicole Nover
“I serve to nurture kind and sensitive souls who dream of a better world.” – Thomas Wilkins
“I serve because I believe that we all have a responsibility to contribute towards building a more equitable society for future generations.” – Sumana Shashidhar
“I serve because we rise by lifting others.” – Jenna Thibault
Our celebration then ended as most Opening Days do, with the recitation of the City Year pledge, this year lead by Senator Maggie Hassan. “By helping kids stay and succeed in school, you’re strengthening the future of our state, and you’re insuring that our communities remain strong,” Senator Hassan shared with the corps. “I am really proud to support your efforts, not only because of the individual impact you have but because of what you represent about our country and our state.” With that, all 65 City Year AmeriCorps members pledged themselves to service for a year, becoming the 20th corps to do so in New Hampshire. Needless to say, the Manchester and New Hampshire communities are so excited to see what these idealistic young leaders accomplish this year.
To see more pictures from our Opening Day celebration, check out our photo album!