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Winter celebration brings fun and a time to reflect

On December 17, Philadelphia’s famed Blue Cross RiverRink was the meeting place for City Year Philly’s annual Corps Winter Celebration. The festive event kicked off with our 200+ AmeriCorps members nestled inside a cozy cabin for food and fellowship. As corps and staff congregated over tasty treats like mozzarella sticks, meatball subs, and french fries from iconic Philly restaurant Chickie’s and Pete’s, the gathering allotted time and space for corps members to reflect on the first half of their year of service.

“I’m taken aback by how fast this year is going and just reflecting back on how far I’ve come as an individual and as a second-year with a new team of people,” says Tametra Thomas a second-year corps member serving at Frankford High School. The Suitland, Maryland native says round two of City Year has proven to be a more exciting year than the first.

“I’ve never been so excited to see my students and taking every opportunity to work and serve their every need,” Tametra shares. “Maybe it’s because I’m fortunate to serve my students from last year. Seeing them grow up before my eyes is a blessing for me.”

To this end, Tametra says the one word she’d use to describe her corps member experience so far would be “blissful.”

For Zachary Pennix, a first-year corps member from Lynchburg, Virginia, the one phrase that comes to mind as he looks back on his first few months of service is “divine intervention.” Says the McClure Elementary School team member, “We are working within the system to generate our change. I’m learning how to develop skills that I’d yet to incorporate into a routine.”

Zachary’s most memorable moment so far? “A student confiding in me about their home life.”

As Tametra, Zachary, and others pondered the time gone by, the winter celebration was also the perfect time to look ahead. Zachary is most looking forward to the City Year Philly’s MLK Day of Service at Kensington High School. On the other hand, Tametra declares she isn’t seeking anything in particular other than to continue enjoying her adventure as a City Year corps member.

Similar to corps members, City Year Philly’s Executive Director Darryl Bundrige took time to think upon the current year of service. He offered words of appreciation for the tenacious work and impact that corps members are having across Philadelphia, serving and making a difference for students inside 19 different elementary, middle, and high schools.

After reflecting on the months gone by, and sharing excitement for the second half to come, it was time to take it to the ice. Corps members and staff alike laced up their skates, sharpened their blades, and met at the ice rink.

With the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge serving as the backdrop, City Year Philadelphia had a joyous time ice skating. Some were quicker than others, some held hands to keep steady, and some simply cheered from the sidelines, but all enjoyed the midyear gathering and time of celebration.

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