By Shamique White, AmeriCorps Member serving at Bakersville Elementary School sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal.
The Bakersville school team hosted City Year New Hampshire’s Community Meeting with this month’s theme being gratitude; giving thanks to the people in our lives and to our experiences, past and present. 90 strong, AmeriCorps members and staff sat in one strong circle in the “Beloved Community” room as the Bakersville team spoke candidly about what gratitude is, from differing perspectives.
In preparation of this event, the Bakersville team did an arts and crafts project in the classrooms they serve, asking the students what they are thankful for. Students made hand-turkeys, symbolizing a thanksgiving turkey with the words of people and things in their lives they are thankful for. Our team displayed the hand-turkeys as decorative pieces, showing a piece of Bakersville to the rest of the site.
"I'm thankful for my life." -Student from Bakersville Elementary School
At the start of the meeting, Bakersville Service Leader, Binh, introduced the Bakersville team, starting with Anna. Anna spoke about being thankful your past experiences. Her moccasins allowed her to be more compassionate and empathetic towards others. Anna’s personal anecdote was followed by an activity where participants partnered up and engaged in an ubuntu walk with one leg tied to each other. As conjoined CYNH members hobbled and giggled back to their seats, Alysa was up second with Ripples and Joys. She encouraged us all to continue to ripple our ideas out to our fellow AmeriCorps members, staff, partner-teachers, students and share our joys to ensure they continue to laugh and smile.
Anna speaking at the Community Meeting
Evan followed Alysa with his Life’s Work. The site fell silent as Evan revealed his struggle with loss in his life; in a mix of spoken word and monologue, his eloquence and rawness evoked strong reaction. There were tears and hand-holding as everyone drew a little closer to each other, listening with open hearts to Evan’s story. His message was that we should be thankful for loss because loss, although sometimes unbearable, can offer us a sense of clarity, reminding us to not take what we have for granted.
After Evan’s powerful words, The PITW Awards were awarded to AmeriCorps members and staff with PITW’s they most embodied. VISTA, Allie Gonyea, announced the recipients of the awards while the circle enthusiastically erupted in silent applause. Shortly after, I spoke about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “Everybody can be great,” quote. Opening with audio of King speaking those words, I openly reflect about my year of service and what it truly means to me. Our ability to serve is what humbles and connects us as humanity, to which I am thankful. Afterwards Sarah presented Appreciations, leading CYNH in an activity that gave us all the opportunity to appreciate fellow AmeriCorps members and staff in an unique way. Binh closed out with a guided meditation calling attention to the wonder of life and gratitude to all things that make life.
Bakerville Community Meeting was an experience I greatly enjoyed. It reminded me of how fortunate and honored I am to serve as part of CYNH with the Bakersville team. As we head into this holiday season, the entire AmeriCorps is more thankful than ever for the family we have built here in Manchester.
Community Meeting Activities