By: Stephanie Francis, City Year Denver AmeriCorps Member


I was in eighth grade the first time I heard about City Year. They came to my tiny charter school in Boston, Massachusetts to talk about their community service project Young Heroes. All I heard were the rumors that came after, rumors of free sneakers, so I obviously signed up.

There were no free sneakers.

What I did get was a lot more valuable than a free pair of kicks. The next few months spent cleaning parks, painting benches, and learning about my community helped me understand something bigger than myself.

The next time I thought about service was during my freshman year of college. Freshman were required to take a class called The Great Conversation, to this day I am not quite sure what requirement it fulfilled but we had the option of participating in service projects in Lynn, Massachusetts or writing two extra papers. This again was a no brainier, and I signed up to spend my Wednesday afternoons with little kids. My Wednesdays at Girls Inc. were not long enough in my opinion, and even though I was supposed to use that time helping girls with their homework, it was spent talking about their friends and favorite celebrities with some interruptions of me telling them to get back to work in between.

Their impact on me was a lot greater than mine on them, which to be perfectly honest drove me crazy because I had the notion that if you are not impacting change then you are wasting your time. My Wednesdays in Lynn taught me however, that the injustices I wanted to fix were more complicated than I thought.

I serve because I have learned that problems are bigger than whether or not a student is trying. I have seen kids who are trying their hardest to succeed and things still stand in their way, because the odds are stacked against them. These things still happen if there is no hope, if there is no redirection, if the odds are not being changed. 

I serve because the intention of those making a change matters 1000 times more than what they are actually doing.  I do not serve to make myself look good, but because everyone deserves a chance at success and should not be judge based on the odds they have been dealt. 

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