be_ixf;ym_202407 d_13; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

Alumni Spotlight: Hanna Kim (‘20), Community Schools Volunteer Coordinator, City of Philadelphia

Left: Hanna during her time serving as a City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member, 2019-2020.
Right: Hanna in her current role as Community Schools Volunteer Coordinator.

 

Meet Hanna Kim, a remarkable City Year Philadelphia (CYP) alum whose dedication to service continues to make a lasting impact. Hanna served with City Year Philly during the 2019-2020 school year at William D. Kelley Elementary. She initially learned about CYP through a family friend, also a City Year alum, who reached out to Hanna after she graduated college and encouraged her to give a year of service.

Today, Hanna continues to embody the values of service and community. In her current role as Community Schools Volunteer Coordinator with the City of Philadelphia, she coordinates volunteers across 20 schools (including current CYP school partner Southwark Elementary) supporting a wide range of programs, from grocery giveaways to Philly Reading Coaches. Previously, Hanna served as the National Communications Manager for City Year HQ, where she honed her skills in strategic communication and outreach.

In January 2023, Hanna founded the Asian Food Collective, a volunteer-led cooking group dedicated to providing culturally relevant meals for the South Philly community. Under her leadership, the Asian Food Collective has raised over $30,000, cooked more than 800 meals, engaged over 15 volunteers, and established partnerships with seven organizations and businesses.

Read our Q&A below with Hanna to delve into her inspiring journey, from her impactful year of service with CYP to her current endeavors in community engagement.

 

Hanna pictured with her William D. Kelley Elementary service team.

 

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a City Year Philly AmeriCorps member?

What I enjoyed most was building relationships with so many different people. I met some of my best friends through City Year, and working with students was incredible. I have this memory of one student who, at the beginning of the year, would respond, “Why are you asking me that?” when I asked her how she was doing. But by February, she was asking me how I was doing. It was rewarding to see that taking the time to get to know people—whether it’s a student, a teacher, or another Corps member—built meaningful relationships by the end of the year.

 

How did your year of service prepare you for your current role as Community Schools Volunteer Coordinator with the City of Philadelphia?

My Impact Manager and I would always describe working in a school as “organized chaos.” It’s good to prepare and have a plan, but in an environment like a school where things can sometimes change minute by minute, adaptability is key. That’s also true when working for the City of Philadelphia. There are so many different departments, and plans can sometimes change. So, adaptability but also being prepared are important.

 

Hanna and her Community Schools colleagues welcome Southwark School students as they arrive at their temporary building location at South Philadelphia High School, November 2023. 

 

Outside of your 9-5 job, you’re also the founder of the Asian Food Collective. What drew you to starting this organization, and where do you hope that it will go in the future?

I’ve volunteered with the South Philadelphia Community Fridge since 2022, and it’s been a great way to get to know the neighbors. I noticed a large Asian population using these community fridges, and they would always be excited to see noodles or other culturally familiar foods. I started doing more of a deep dive into food insecurity in Philadelphia and found that there was a lack of data on Asian populations. When we are unaccounted for, this leads to a lot of culturally irrelevant foods.

I founded the Asian Food Collective because it’s important to have culturally relevant food that represents the populations we serve. I’m Korean, and food is a big love language in my culture and a lot of other Asian cultures. The Asian Food Collective aims to bring culturally relevant foods that feel like home. It’s also been really cool to build community through cooking and form close friendships with the other volunteers.

Our volunteers currently cook once a week at Old Pine Community Center. In the future, I hope to do more food events and find ways to build community through food—whether that be cooking more often or having a big community meal. I’m also looking forward to bringing more people into the Asian Food Collective so that the project can continue with or without me. I try to see this as not my project, but our project.

 

Hanna and Asian Food Collective volunteers always have a blast cooking meals together!

 

What does education equity mean to you?

To me, education equity means meeting students where they are. All students deserve to be in a supportive, encouraging, and fun environment that fosters learning and makes them want to learn—whether they realize it or not! There were many times when I turned my academic tutoring sessions into games. I see education equity as based in relationship-building with students.

“All students deserve to be in a supportive, encouraging, and fun environment that fosters learning and makes them want to learn—whether they realize it or not!”

What advice would you give to CYP’s current Corps of Student Success Coaches, as well as those who might be considering a year of service?

This year of service is hard, but you’re not in it alone. You’re going to meet some of the best people in your life during your time at City Year. There will be some days when you see immediate growth and other days when you’ll need a break—and it’s okay to take that step back. Use your PTO (paid time off) and take care of yourself. The world is not going to crash if you’re not in service for a day or two.

 

What are some of the best ways for CYP alumni to stay connected to and engaged with service?

I think people often equate service or volunteering to a formal nonprofit organization. But the thing that’s so beautiful about service is that it can literally be anything and anywhere. For example, the South Philadelphia Community Fridge is a mutual aid group, and you can contribute whatever time you have to offer. Service is whatever piques your interest that has some form of impact. At the end of the day, I think what matters most is the relationships you build through it.

 

 

Are you considering a year of service, or do you know someone who is? City Year Philly is currently hiring full-time tutors and mentors for the 2024-2025 school year. Start your journey today!

Connect with a recruiter

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