By Claudia Duran, AmeriCorps Member Serving at Parker-Varney Elementary School, the Alumni Sponsored Team.
Service, this word has many different meanings. However, at City Year New Hampshire the word service means community, strength, and unity. My name is Claudia Duran, and I proudly serve at Parker-Varney Elementary School. My team will be hosting the first community meeting since the school year has started, the theme is service, and we are so excited to show our Beloved Community all that we have planned.
Parker-Varney has been prepping for this meeting for quite some time; many hours have gone into thinking about how we could convey the true power of service. We started by expressing what service meant to us through our very own ‘Panther Pact’, a full values contract valued at our school. We ultimately decided to come together to carry forth our service not only with integrity and a strong united presence but as a family as well. One of the most important messages we hoped would carry across to the core was the importance of unity and family in our service and site.
The most powerful value we share as a part of City Year is service; it is what brought us to together to begin with. I find this commitment and passion for service fitting because many of us traveled from near and or far to be a part of service; the most amazing characteristic that has enabled us to connect. It is so powerful that people of many different backgrounds, upbringings, and ideas continuously have come together by choice to create positive change inside of our schools and community. My Service Leader, Sarah Caska, brought to my attention the idea that in order to embody City Year values we most often must build our own connection to service. Whether it was an inspiring event we attended, an inner calling, or simply the desire to give a year to create change, we all have come together with a common purpose and goal.
Parker-Varney as a team took these powerful thoughts as a way to strengthen our bond and hoped to spread this love amongst our Beloved Community. As an insider and outsider all at once I was able to view all the powerful messages my team was presenting. Even in moments of confusion, high levels of stress, and nervousness, there was a genuine sense of unity amongst our team members. It was truly satisfying to see the culmination of ideas come together, as well as seeing the joy of others spread with each section. The most exciting moments were those where you could see the AmeriCorps Members connecting and sharing their different views or service experiences. Some of the thoughts that I heard involved connection and how even though we are from different walks of life that we were one true family through our service. Another thought was the importance of appreciating one another; our service may be difficult at times but knowing that someone felt we were important made our site feel as if they were truly supported in the hard efforts put forth each day. I also was overjoyed to hear of the different meanings that service meant to each member; while each person had a different idea of what service meant to them, the power was that we felt connected even in our differences. The meeting was filled with many insightful conversations that as our Impact Manager, Chris Potter, put, “began ripples”. While this was a difficult event to put together, it was one well worth the effort. I am truly proud of the service Parker Varney performed.
One highlight that we will be displaying in our Beloved Community space are small cutouts of the Timberland boot, which is a representation of service to us at City Year due to the legacy it has within our organization. On these boots each CYNH member has written down what service means to them and it will be a reminder of our range of ideas and definitions of service and why we are all here.
Pawn Nitichan, City Year New Hampshire’s Executive Director, shared a powerful quote with me. She told me, “Service can be a meeting place and common ground for all people.” After today’s Community Meeting, I know that we can walk away knowing we are strong. Afterall, as members of City Year, we all unite to carry out a service that transcends us; a service that will shape our community for generations to come.