By Lindsey Sullivan, AmeriCorps Member serving at Northwest Elementary School and the 2016 Comcast "Spirit of City Year" Award Receipient

I feel so fortunate to have been nominated by all of you for this award. It’s truly a humbling experience because I’m surrounded by so many people who are just as deserving, if not more. I’d like to take this time to thank my parents who have given me unconditional love, my roommates for the “off the clock” laughs, the Service Leaders and Vista for fearlessly leading us, staff for making our work possible, my partner teacher for supporting and guiding me, Northwest Elementary School and my students for welcoming us with open arms, my team for showing me the power of diversity, and finally my Impact Manager for developing me as a leader.

Just as our students have us to depend on, we have our Impact Managers. Had it not been for Renee, my team wouldn’t have been able to implement whole-school initiatives that build community and foster a love for learning. We wouldn’t have been able to navigate our interpersonal relationships with such ease. We wouldn’t have been able to get through the heartbreaking times, which were inevitable. We would not have had the opportunity to make the impact that we did without her humility, will, boldness, courage and perseverance, so thank you, Renee.

As I was thinking about this year, so many feelings surfaced. Happiness, excitement, sadness, anxiety, fulfillment, pride, humility, inspiration, uncertainty, heartache—these feelings are what make up a City Year. No matter who we served or on which side of the city, we brought our best selves to school each day. This time of year isn’t the time to compare your year to anyone else’s. It’s a time to celebrate the fact that your year is uniquely yours, and no one can take that from you.

With that said, I don’t feel as though I had a hard year or that I had to endure much struggle. Of course there were trials and tribulations, but there are corps members in this room who have served without an Impact Manager, without a Service Leader, without teammates they started the year with. There are corps members in this room who have lost a student, left behind a significant other, and maybe thought about throwing in the towel. We all are the Spirit of City Year. In my heart, the Spirit of City Year is having the resilience to bounce back from adversity to be there for your kids no matter how you feel. It’s about loving unconditionally and without reserve. It’s about enthusiasm that inspires future generations. It’s about mobilizing to do the work that needs to be done. And we’ve all done all of these things.

As this year comes to a close and we start our next adventures, it is my hope that you look back fondly at the relationships you’ve created and that you realize the difference you’ve made in the lives of others. I had no idea what to expect when I decided to move 1200 miles from Jacksonville, Florida but I’m elated with what I found. I found a family—a community of people who care about the things I do. It all starts with connection. That’s exactly what Manchester needs and what we help to build each day. I have no doubt our students will grow up to be Big Citizens and pass on the lessons we taught them, just as we’ll carry on the lessons they taught us.  

Again, thank you all for trusting this process and for helping me become a better person this year. It was a short 10 months, but I’m lucky to have been able to share it with you.

Please click here to view the photos from City Year New Hampshire's 2016 Graduation. 

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