By Marcus Owens
AmeriCorps member on the Horning Family Fund team serving at Anacostia High School
“I pledge to serve as a City Year Member to the very best of my ability.”
This is the first line of the City Year pledge, which every City Year Americorps member takes when they begin their year of service. It encapsulates the type of grit and determination that being an AmeriCorps member takes. We show our commitment by being ever present for our students, so much so that our life at school may feel like the only life we have. I personally have a hard time separating life as an AmeriCorps member and life after final circle. So when it comes to taking days off, I find it difficult to admit that I need one. Why? Because it almost feels like I am letting the students down if I am not there.
Well, as I sit here with mucus dripping from my nose and the left side of my face feeling like it has collapsed inwards, I can assure you that taking sick days are absolutely necessary. This morning when I woke up, I felt awful. Now, I was about to get ready for service, but it dawned on me that if I go to Anacostia High School today, I would be doing a disservice to myself, my team and my students as well. A flu bug can spread like wildfire in a school building. Coming to service feeling sick is just the first step in an epidemic that could cripple our team, and in a worst case scenario, spread to our students.
In 2004, the Harvard Business Review reported on a study conducted by researchers in Boston. The study showed that “employees who came to work sick that year -- with ailments such as allergies, headaches, lower-back pain, arthritis, colds and the flu -- set the company back about $34 million.” That’s a lot of dough!
We are not superhumans impervious to illnesses. It is important to commit to our service and to the students we interact with. But, admitting you need a day off actually is the way to serve as a City Year AmeriCorps member to the very best of your ability. Service is important, but we will be ineffective AmeriCorps members if we do not stay healthy. So take a day off! Grab some chicken noodle soup (or pho if you fancy), bundle up with your comforter, turn on your humidifier, and click on Netflix. Trust me, you need it.