written by Noa Sadeh, serving at Bakersville Elementary School team
While students were given Friday, November 10th off from school in observance of Veterans Day, City Year New Hampshire chose to honor the men and women who serve in our military by taking our service out of the classroom and into the greater Manchester community. At City Year, we strongly believe that service is one of the greatest and most effective ways to bring people together and inspire social change. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”
It seems fitting that Veterans Day comes so close to Thanksgiving. We have so much to be grateful for because of the unwavering dedication of all those who serve our country. Service does not always have to mean serving in the military to ensure the security of our country, or serving in the police department to keep our communities safe. It can be as small as donating food and clothing to a shelter, or even as small as recognizing your own privilege and standing up for those who are less privileged than you.
Spending November 10th working in the pantry of the New Horizons shelter helped me rediscover the power and kindness of the Manchester community. Friday was the coldest day we experienced this year and as we walked to our service site, our red jackets zipped to our chins and our faces numb with cold, we were quickly reminded that winter is fast approaching and snow would soon cover the ground. When we entered the pantry and looked at all of the food, clothing, and hygiene supplies that were stacked to the ceiling, my heart filled with admiration for the generosity of our state’s citizens. The shelter was in the process of preparing for the winter and holiday season, which is their busiest time of year. I was part of the group tasked with sorting donated winter coats. With every coat that I sorted, labeled, and put on a shelf, I knew that there would be one less person without a coat who would not otherwise have one.
To me, service is the embodiment of the principles of generosity, sacrifice, and open mindedness. Our country’s greatness is built on the sacrifice of those who serve in the military and their families. It is built on the generosity of everyone who has donated their belongings and time to help their fellow citizens. Most importantly, it is built on the open mindedness of all those who choose to serve to counteract injustice. The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on your own power and privilege. What can you do to help? What do you have that you can bring to your community to make it stronger?
If you or someone you know is interested in joining City Year, click here for information about the application process. The next application deadline is January 26th.