by Danielle Doolittle, AmeriCorps member serving on the Comcast NBCUniversal team with Jeremiah E. Burke High School

“I’ve never made a pie in my life; today, I made 130 pies,” shared Austin Cosgrove, AmeriCorps member serving with the Trotter Innovation School in Dorchester, MA after a 13 hour day of service. Austin and I, along with my teammate Erin Mabee, were three of about 20 AmeriCorps members who participated as project coordinators (PCs) for City Year Boston’s Thanksgiving service event.

During City Year Boston service days, project coordinators lead groups of volunteers through various tasks in order to accomplish the larger goal of the service event. For this particular event, Austin, Erin, and I were in charge of four different shifts of volunteers and our goal for the day was to make 100 bags of trail mix, 200 sandwiches, and 130 apple pies. With this hefty goal in mind, we set out for a full day of fresh-faced volunteers, apple peels, and plenty of coffee.

Arriving at 6:30 a.m., first cup of coffee in hand, my fellow project coordinators and I began setting up our tables with the various stations and the supplies the volunteers would need to complete the tasks. Our specific project, Project #1, was making food for the Pine Street Inn, which serves 1,600 homeless men and women daily. The morning passed quickly as we and other PCs bustled around the Lavine Civic Forum in City Year Headquarters finishing up the prep-work to welcome hundreds of volunteers to a day of service and thanks.

At promptly 9 a.m., volunteers from companies such as Wellington Management, Bain & Company, State Street, and BMC Software flooded into the forum, eager to find their project and lend their many hands to give back to the greater Boston community. The volunteers came in shifts, each lasting two hours. The volunteers worked efficiently and diligently on each project. After each group was done, the PCs would gather their volunteers for a final circle and ask if anyone had a joy to share from their service.

One of our volunteers confidently articulated his gratitude for the opportunity to interact and connect with employees of other companies who had volunteer outreach programs like his work offered. His appreciation for the day was echoed through a common theme of joy amongst all volunteers for the camaraderie they felt throughout the service event. Many expressed the satisfaction they felt in knowing that all of their small jobs were coming together to give back in big ways to the organizations such as Pine Street Inn, Rosie’s Place, Home for Little Wanderers, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Friday Night Supper Program, Women’s Lunch Place, Hearth, St. Francis House, and BPS Homeless Education Resource Network.

Throughout my service year, it is easy to get caught up in the daily tasks and responsibilities. However, one of my joys from participating as a PC for this Thanksgiving event was getting to lead others through this meaningful service. I have the privilege of serving each day for these ten months, yet I never realized how impactful it is to connect others with the power of service. Recognizing how much the volunteers cared about the people of the community brought a fresh perspective to my service. Despite the long day, I fed off the tireless energy of the volunteers whose pure excitement to serve inspired me to bring this positivity back to my own students.

I was consistently impressed by the volunteers’ admiration for City Year and their commitment to this service. I walked into Headquarters that morning daunted by the number of pies we were assigned for the day, however, the volunteers’ conviction and passion to service made the day fly by with genuine conversation and plenty of good laughs. This Thanksgiving event exemplified the strength of our Boston community to come together and work collaboratively to accomplish a bigger goal of improving the well-being of others, one pie at a time.


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