By Abby Milonas, AmeriCorps member serving on the McDonough Elementary School Team.
I’m not afraid to admit that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when I first applied to City Year. I’d just graduated from college with a history degree and no solid job prospects. When a friend who worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA recommended I look into City Year, I figured, why not? I had no experience with teaching or non-profit work, but it seemed to line up with my values and it was only a year-long commitment. So my mother and I crammed all my worldly possessions into my little 2006 Toyota Corolla and drove the seventeen hours from Charleston, South Carolina, where I’d lived on my own for the past three years, back to my parents’ house in Hooksett, New Hampshire.
For the first several weeks of Basic Training Academy, AmeriCorps members were put into “founding teams,” each led by a Service Leader and an Impact Manager. My team was called the Lever, from the Archimedes quote, “give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.” There were quite a few interesting characters in my founding team, but the one that stands out the most was our Impact Manager, Joshua Rose.
Meeting Josh Rose is an experience in itself. My first thought was, “is this guy for real?” His very presence is an explosion of idealism. He exhibits enthusiasm and dedication in everything City Year-related. When we read the Daily Briefing each morning, he repeated the silly callbacks with gusto. At afternoon debriefs, he listened to us with clear interest and embraced every prompt question no matter how goofy. He is disarmingly kind, honest, and just a purely genuine person. The distrustful facade that I put up when I first met him quickly gave way under his incessant barrage of friendliness. He never pushed too hard or made me feel that my personal boundaries had been breached, but he let me know that he would be there for me if and when I needed him.
It is because of this that I felt safe revealing to him my doubts about City Year. With my health draining from the stress of the new year, I wondered if it was really the right path for me and began to consider other job opportunities. When I told Josh about this, I did not feel judged or looked down upon because I could not “make it” at City Year. He seemed seriously invested in my well-being, even if that meant leaving. With his support, I felt more confident opening up around my fellow first-years, and I even—begrudgingly, at first—began to participate in the silly rituals sprinkled throughout our days.
On the day of the Red Jacket Ceremony, I was still unsure to whom I would dedicate my jacket. The obvious choice was my mom, who is unbelievably supportive and without whom I wouldn’t have had the courage or ability to participate in City Year at all. I knew, though, that I wanted to make my dedication something really special, something that would surprise even myself. Then, sitting in our circle during the ceremony, the idea finally came to me. I decided to dedicate my jacket to Josh Rose, the person who supported me without question or condition from the very first moment. I was at a crucial crossroads in my life, and he did not tell me which path to take, but offered me every resource to make the decision myself. He is everything a great manager should aspire to be.
I have no regrets about my decision and am proud to be a City Year AmeriCorps member. While there are still days when I feel anxious about my ability to fulfill my responsibilities as a student mentor, I know that I will always have the support of my team, the staff, and the City Year New Hampshire community. Furthermore, my team is beyond lucky to have someone like Josh as our Impact Manager. City Year affectionately refers to our supporters as our “champions,” and I like to think that Josh is our champion. He is one of the most warm-hearted and supportive people I’ve ever encountered. He always comes to school with a warm smile and an unbeatable attitude; he is sweet, understanding, open-minded, good-natured, and embodies the core aspects of all that City Year represents. I truly believe that if we could all be a little more like Josh Rose, the world would be a marvelous place.
If you or someone you know is interested in giving a year of national service with City Year, check out our application homepage! Our upcoming application deadlines are November 16th and January 25th.