It’s Friday. I have just spent the morning on E-Grants filling in final forms for each of you to officially end your year of service and be exited from the system. You should receive some notice of that in your MyAmericorps. As I ticked the boxes about hours, dates, and compelling personal circumstances etc, I thought to myself- someone reading the document in a few years time will have no idea, none, nada, what it all meant, and what we together have achieved in this year of the plague.
How many other boxes would we need to tick to do this crazy year justice? Tick the box if the member-
-hung in there when everything they signed on for seemed to disappear
-improvised to identify and meet the need that was around them-stayed in the story of service no matter what
-supported each other through the down times
-celebrated the good times and had a laugh- and a great graduation
-compelling personal circumstances-yes, how they compelled members to care more
-got creative in finding new ways of serving the age-old needs of hunger and loneliness
-were stretched and came to know more about their own strengths and limits
-challenged to do education in a different way outside of school
The forms on E-Grants don’t ask these questions- but that’s the problem with data. It’s all bones and no flesh. The AmeriCorps report will say that “19 members signed on for Project CHANGE in August 2019 and 19 members served through to the end of the 2020 school year and beyond.” End of story? No way!
When the rest of the country was totally upended, Project CHANGE stood up. And that is a tribute to each of you, my team, my COVID Corps.
I want to thank each of you personally for your efforts-Funa, Genean, Lex, David, AnneMarie, Jose, Jessica, Ben, Gregory, Alanna, Jason, Milton,Claire, Pearl, Angela, Jennifer, Blen, Ben M, Maria, for your dedication- above and beyond the call of duty.
You will never know the impact of your patience with that Senior who you called each week but you made her life a little less lonely. Or that girl who ran away because home was too toxic but you stayed on the case even when everyone told you to butt out. Or the support you gave to that overwhelmed teacher by organizing his grading system and exams so he could stay connected to his students. As you move on to your next year, know you did leave behind a story, a memory, a moment. Cherish that. Be proud of that.
Some of you are signing on for another year. Some of you are looking for jobs. Some of you are going back to school. Some of you are still making up your mind. But in the summer of 2020, you were serving with AmeriCorps Project CHANGE and when the world went crazy, you stayed sane. When the world shut down, you did your best to stay open for business. When people, friends, family of yours, got sick, isolated or even died, you did what the AmeriCorps pledge says- you got things done. You brought people together. When faced with adversity, you persevered.
There will be future AmeriCorps years of Project CHANGE. And we know that we will eventually get through this. But as RFK said, “it is the rare privilege few generations get, to rise to meet the challenges of their time.” Team 2019-20 have. We have. Don’t you ever forget that!
Proud of all of you-Thankful for all of you.
No more Sign In Sheets-(Ha Ha.)
Over and Out.