Written by Mallory Orr, AmeriCorps member serving on the Entergy Louisiana Team at Broadmoor Middle School. 

Each year, Americorps members across the nation serving with City Year are sworn into their year of service during the annual Red Jacket Ceremony. Each city’s corps recites the City Year and Americorps pledges where they confirm their dedication to national service, idealism, commitment, and mission to serve children.

Like all other sites, City Year Baton Rouge held a Red Jacket Ceremony--but this year it was a bit more special. This year marks the 10th year of City Year’s service in Louisiana, founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. City Year Baton Rouge chose to commemorate the importance of this year by not only holding a Red Jacket Ceremony, but a whole Red Jacket Weekend, made up of three events to celebrate City Year’s dedication to Baton Rouge, as well as honor the anniversary of Katrina.

On Friday, August 28, CYBR held a Champion’s Jazz Brunch in order to celebrate all of the individuals and organizations that support, donate, advise, and sponsor City Year Baton Rouge. We call these people our Champions. Our Champions, community partners, and CYBR alumni gathered to share a brunch together where all attendees could take time to reflect and renew their dedication and love for city year. Corps members shared stories, champions were honored, and all those who make CYBR’s work possible were able to share time together.

That night, all CYBR Alumni and staff came together at the Roux House in downtown Baton Rouge to connect, reflect, and celebrate all the amazing work CYBR has done in the past 10 years. Without each of these corps members, the story of CYBR would be much different, so this event was a great opportunity to honor each person who has given a year of their life to make better happen in Baton Rouge.

Saturday, August 29,  marked the most important event of the weekend, a day of service in New Orleans, and the official Red Jacket ceremony. This day marked the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall 10 years ago, only the start of what became one of the most trying events in Louisiana history. Originally founded at City Year Louisiana, the sites split to better serve the needs of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans communities. On Saturday, both sites came together to serve the great City of New Orleans through the Katrina 10 Day of Service. Corps members built gardens at schools, canvassed neighborhoods, and helped community members prepare for fire safety. 

Later in the day, both Corps had the chance to zip up their red jackets, raise their right hands, and recite the City Year and Americorps pledges together led by Volunteer Louisiana Excutive Director Judd Jeansonne, Lieutenent Governer Jay Dardenne, Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) CEO Wendy Spencer, and AmeriCorps Director Bill Basl.

This weekend served as a meaningful time to celebrate the work City Year has done to serve Louisiana, to thank all those who make this work possible, and to honor the reason City Year began to serve the great people of Louisiana.

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