My name is Devon Cooke, and I am a proud Senior AmeriCorps member serving with the Boston Civic Engagement team. Last year, I was an AmeriCorps Member serving in a 4th grade class in an elementary school in South Boston. There I was moved daily by the strength and grit of my students and my team, and was inspired by the idea of giving a year to serve your community. I then returned for another City Year, but this time working with various schools and communities as a Service Leader. The Boston Civic Engagement team works with community leaders, students, school faculty, and staff, and volunteers to organize and execute service projects that improve the physical condition of schools and community centers in our area. I love helping our communities develop physical spaces so they can truly reflect our excellent students and teachers. They deserve the best, and I am proud to spend my days providing that.

As a service leader, it is the responsibility of my team and I to make sure events that benefit our communities are well thought out, well organized, and smooth-running. My days and weeks are filled with various tasks that range from the physically demanding to the logistically challenging, which never leads to a dull moment. With this variety comes the need for flexibility and the ability to roll with whatever your day of service brings you. Early in this year of service, I found that I was challenged by this variety, so I needed to find a way to keep perspective to continue delivering strong service. So, with this in mind, I began embracing the peaks, and laughing off the valleys.

In a single week, you may spend hours trying to scrape up frozen masking tape from a parking lot, have personal conversations with awe inspiring social justice leaders, lead a service event with more than 50 volunteers, get to attend a Celtics game, and then end your week trying to scrape up the rest of that masking tape from that same parking lot. You will feel happy, confident, stressed, and exhausted in the same day, if not the same hour. It’ll always be a lot to take in, but almost every challenge is made easier with a deep breath and a smile.

Learning to embrace every twist and turn that this year has given me has made me a stronger teammate and leader. Though I still have so much to learn, I have gained so much through Civic Engagement, such as the confidence to laugh through missteps and the self-awareness to learn through these moments to grow as a public servant. I have learned that every moment of frustration will be overcome by a million moments of joy, and, with that joy, one then can serve one's communities with the love and care they deserve.


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