written by Tyler Jones. Photographs provided courtesy of John Benford Photography.
National Opening Day Sponsor:
City Year New Hampshire’s Opening Day ceremony was a celebration of the arrival of our new corps and a kick-off for our new year of service. The annual event is a chance for friends and family of corps members, as well as members of the Manchester community, to come together and recognize the tremendous commitment that our corps in making by choosing to do a year of service. We brought in a variety of external speakers, such as Mayor Ted Gatsas, McDonough Elementary School Principal Kenneth DiBenedetto, First Lady Valerie Sununu, and Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard, each of whom plays a different role in the Manchester community. Our speakers had a chance to share a little bit about how they feel CYNH has impacted Manchester and how appreciative they are for the work we do. First Lady Sununu in particular expressed gratitude for the time and energy we give to the students of Manchester, saying “I could have used people like you when I was growing up.” Principal DiBenedetto emphasized how much capacity our corps members bring to our schools, saying that they “couldn’t do it without (us).”
We also performed one of our PT (physical training) moves with the audience. The corps first demonstrated the move before inviting attendees to perform it with us. By sharing a part of City Year culture with the crowd, we were integrating them into the energy and idealism of the occasion, and demonstrating the spirit, discipline, purpose, and pride that we aim to deliver daily.
For the final part of the ceremony, our corps members took the stage to commit to their year of service by sharing a brief statement about why they have chosen to serve with City Year. Reasons ranged from wanting to be a positive role model to children to wanting to make a difference in the world; still others focused on the social justice aspects of our work. Each corps member’s confident and powerful affirmation of their reason for electing to do a year of service was a fitting way to end the celebration.
As a whole, this event was a wonderful chance for us to meet some of Manchester’s most influential figures and for us to integrate ourselves into the community at large. It also serves as a reminder that no matter what we may feel or experience during our service, we are constantly supported by the people and community around us.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining City Year, click here to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The next application deadline is October 27th.