Served: City Year Boston 2005-2006
Current position: Director of CRM & Data Strategy at The Madison Square Garden Company
City Year Boston (CYB): What first attracted you to City Year?
Curran Raclin (CR): I am fortunate to come from the family that I do. My parents ingrained in me from childhood how important it is to give back. My step-father, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, used to say that it wasn’t enough to talk the talk. You had to walk the walk. I suppose it was a foregone conclusion that I would give a year of service through a gap year when I finished college, and going solely on the number of red jackets in the closet at home, that year was always going to be a City Year.
But when I applied to City Year, I didn’t do it because I was supposed to. I did it because I wanted to. I wanted to give back. I wanted to have an impact on the lives of the students with whom I would be working. Still, it never occurred to me that they would have such a strong impact on me.
CYB: What is your proudest achievement from your service year?
CR: City Year also afforded me opportunities to grow and learn more about myself. I was lucky enough to be selected to lead a summer program for kids in Boston. That leadership opportunity helped me to grow and learn beyond any expectation I had of myself at the time. It gave me confidence. It also gave me a chance to work collaboratively with other AmeriCorps members and teams. I have been able to take that collaborative management experience and the confidence gained during my entire City Year with me into the professional world. Now I lead a team in my professional life, and I am more grateful than ever for my City Year experience as I so often fall back on the lessons I learned while working with my City Year team.
City Year also gave me the chance to work with a very diverse group of people, of different ages, different ethnic and religious backgrounds, from different socio- economic statuses and different geographic locations. At times, it was frustrating. Patience is not a virtue I was born with, but working with my team at City Year taught me how to work together and how to compromise. I know I speak for my fellow corps members, many of whom I am still in touch with today, when I say that, because of City Year, we learned how to work together in a productive fashion, without sacrificing our ideals, our beliefs, to make sure that we got the job done. I think that we can all agree that the country, and indeed the world, could benefit from more of that kind of training and cooperation.
CYB: How does service fit in to your life now?
CR: I believe in service as a lifetime commitment. As for me, for five years, I have served on the Board and for four years as the Treasurer of the Massachusetts Service Alliance, which, as you may know, is a private non-profit that acts as the Commonwealth Commission on community service and volunteerism. The Mass Service Alliance was so important to me that I continued my Board service even after I moved away from Massachusetts. I know what a difference we make in developing and promoting public policies and private initiatives that incorporate service and volunteerism as effective strategies to address community needs. I also know what a difference City Year continues to make in the lives of the people it serves and in the lives of those who are privileged to serve.
CYB: How did it feel to know one of the students you served now serves as an AmeriCorps member, and shared his story with the guests at Starry Starry Night?
CR: In the years since my own City Year, I have often thought of the kids I tutored, and wondered how they were doing. It’s just a great feeling to know that one of them has gone on to do their own City Year.
Daavi truly is an amazing man, and makes all of us proud, and I am honored to have played a small role in his development and growth, and we are all lucky to have him.
I’ll be honest and tell you that this situation is a little surreal. But want you know the impact that City Year has had on me. City Year: the program. City Year: my fellow corps members. City Year: my kids. I say my kids, because that is how we thought of them. We take a personal interest in their wellbeing. We help with literacy and math and social studies, but we do so much more than that. We get to know our kids. What their strengths are, where they need help, what hurdles they have. All of that makes the relationships stronger, and the impact greater. We have the advantage of working with the great Boston Public Schools teachers, which allows us to relate to our kids in that gray area between educator and friend. City Year can have a great impact on our students, and as corps members, we commit ourselves to help all of our students realize their full potential.
To see photos from Starry Starry Night, click here.