By Davis Harris, AmeriCorps Member, Comcast NBCUniversal Sponsored Team,
Serving at Bakersville Elementary School.
There is something special about a day spent in a place with the members of a community to improve the space and atmosphere of that community itself. Comcast Cares Day provided just such an opportunity for members of City Year, Comcast employees, and the community members of Elmwood Gardens in Manchester. The sense of unity began early and tangibly with Comcast employees handing out matching green T-shirts to all of the volunteers. The projects were then explained: repainting the inside of a community center in the complex where special events in the community take place, replacing sanded areas with fresh sand, raking and removing leaves, and general beautification of the area.
As volunteers mobilized, starting their early Saturday morning work, members of the community gradually woke up, noticed the commotion, and trickled into the various activities. From my vantage-point painting in the community center, I watched as a few familiar kindergarteners wandered in and through the room, then a few older children, even some faces I see each day in my 5th grade classroom. They were eager to help out, and soon they stood, paintbrushes in hand, working away at making the inside of the community center look brand new again. The progress was quick and easy to see; within an hour or two, most of the base paint job was already done. As the white base dried, volunteers began painting designs and even some inspirational quotes on the walls of the building.
At this point, I moved outside and over to the section of the Gardens where leaf raking was taking place. A swarm of volunteers was making quick work of a fenced-in area covered in leftover leaves from months and months ago. Some raked while others scooped up the piles and still others held bags open to receive the leaves; it was true teamwork in action. As soon as it became clear that there was only a limited amount of work left to be done with the leaves, I headed back towards the community center when I was asked by a student of mine to play some basketball. With most of the work at the site done and the thumbs up from a few fellow corps members, I decided to take him up on the offer. Playing in this pick-up basketball game with fellow corps members and students from the local elementary, middle, and high schools, with toddler siblings riding on scooters around the court was the highlight of the whole experience for me. I had spent the morning working to improve a community space where people I know personally and care about deeply actually live, and then I had the opportunity to end the morning by sharing quality time with those very people.
AmeriCorps members ready to serve
AmeriCorps members cleaning up the leaves around the community
Working alongside volunteers to serve the Manchester community