On September 19, City Year Tulsa hosted our Inaugural Opening Day at Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Many local champions and friends of City Year Tulsa and visitors from City Year Headquarters came to help celebrate our Founding AmeriCorps members as they embark on a year of service in Tulsa schools. The evening before, Vice President and Executive Director Tom McKeon and his wife Stacey welcomed City Year Headquarters visitors and our local champions to an intimate dinner thanking them for their support.
Cristina Mejia, an AmeriCorps member at Will Rogers College Junior High and native Tulsan, attended both of these events. When she gave her testimonial at the Champions Circle, she captivated the group with her story and some were even moved to tears. Below, Cristina shares what being a part of this milestone meant to her.
Moving back to Tulsa to do a year of service with City Year was a unique and great opportunity to give back to the community that I had grown up in. Being a native Tulsan, participating in Opening Day and being invited to represent my fellow AmeriCorps members at the Champions Circle Dinner was very exciting for me. I was nervous about the Champions Dinner and Opening Day because I knew that these were important events for the founding of City Year Tulsa and was excited to a part of them.
The Champions Circle dinner was the night before Opening Day and I was more nervous about the dinner than I had been for any other event I'd been to so far. I knew there would be people attending who have partnered with City Year Tulsa and who were responsible for our success. I had the privilege of sitting at the table with Tom McKeon, Vice President and Executive Director of City Year Tulsa; Michael Brown, City Year’s CEO and co-founder; Robert Thomas, George Kaiser Family Foundation CFO and City Year Tulsa Boad Member; and Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent. I had the opportunity to share my experiences about the students with everyone at the dinner. I was honored to have the opportunity to share my story about my student with City Year Tulsa’s champions. At the end of the reception, I had the opportunity to talk to other attendees one-on-one about my story and it felt great knowing that they listened and understood the work we did in the schools. It was very enlightening to meet the people that were behind City Year’s successful founding in Tulsa.
The next day was our Inaugural Opening Day. It was great seeing all of City Year Tulsa’s partners coming together to support us. I was excited to hear that Opening Day was taking place in Downtown Tulsa because it was bringing positive attention to this area of Tulsa that has been thriving in the past five years. I enjoyed seeing people who happened to be in the area come up to us during power greeting and ask who we were and what we do. I think events like Opening Day will help make our work well known in the community. The speakers were very inspiring. They were all community leaders and it was great to hear that they were excited about having City Year in Tulsa and how inspired they were about the work that we were doing here in Tulsa.
As a Tulsa native, I believe City Year Tulsa can do great things in the communities that we serve. It was a privilege to have been able to attend the Champions Circle dinner and meet all the amazing people behind City Year Tulsa’s success. Opening Day was a spectacular event that allowed us to embrace the journey we have embarked on a City Year Tulsa AmeriCorps members.
Cristina sharing her story at the Champion's Circle dinner.