My first day as a City Year staff member was an overwhelming and wonderful experience. It was also strangely familiar…

I walked across the parking lot toward Veterans Park to find an enthusiastic group of people in red jackets and khaki pants. I was met with high fives, smiles, cheers, and lots of questions. A major feeling of déjà vu swept over me. Like that feeling you have in a dream when you are in a place that doesn’t quite look like the place you remember, but it feels right.

Eleven years ago I walked across a parking lot in Tacoma, Washington toward a similarly enthusiastic group to meet my VISTA team for the first time. I was right out of college, excited, scared, and ready to change the world. My first service year was a challenging, life-altering time for me. Looking back, I value that experience because it gave me a purpose and path in life. I served a second year as team leader, and then in various staff roles as supervisor, manager, and director over the next six years.

Quinn Slayton (right) during her time with the Washington Reading Corps.

No matter what role I’ve been in, the first day of service is my favorite day because of the energy, excitement, and possibility. 

I am inspired by the people who come to serve.

They are a diverse group of citizens working together toward a common purpose.

They want to be the change they see in the world.

They get up every day to do really hard work to make others’ lives better.

If I count up the number of AmeriCorps members I’ve worked with, it’s somewhere around 500 (and growing!). They all walked through the door on their first day with nervous energy and excitement. They left ripples of hope in the communities they served. Many of them have moved on to careers in teaching, nonprofits, government, and private sector. My life is better for knowing them.

I took a few years away to work in other nonprofit agencies, but the draw of national service was always in the back of my mind.  When I was offered the job at City Year, it was like everything clicked in to place. This is where I’m supposed to be.

I am inspired every day by this energetic group of young people who want to change the world. They remind me that our future is bright. PITW #158: It’s a Privilege for All of Us to Serve at City Year.

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