By Jonny Masci, City Year AmeriCorps Member on the Parker-Varney Elementary School Team Sponsored by RiverStone
On September 8, the City Year New Hampshire corps and staff gathered for the annual Red Jacket Ceremony. There, we shared heartfelt stories of the events, the experiences, and the people that brought us to City Year and inspired us to give a year of service. I was proud to dedicate my red jacket to my parents, Elizabeth Bass and Joseph Masci. Through their example, they have taught me the importance of empathy, ubuntu and service to a cause greater than myself.
My mother, Liz, has dedicated her career to increasing literacy of news and science, working toward these goals in both journalism and academia. During her years of work as a newspaper editor, she managed a science section that brought new understanding of scientific research to the public consciousness. She also edited scientific volumes targeted at both expert and lay readers. As a professor at Stony Brook University, she helped to found, and became the first director of, the nonprofit Center for Communicating Science. The pioneering program she helped create will support a new generation of researchers well-positioned to infuse public discourse with scientific understanding. Today, she serves in an AmeriCorps-led literacy program in New York City, tutoring and mentoring elementary school students in reading.
My father, Joe, a talented physician, began his career in a public hospital, during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the US. At that time, AIDS patients faced extreme prejudice; some were even rejected by their families and friends. My father treated each of his patients with empathy and respect. He helped heal familial rifts. Even when their prognosis was grim (which in those days it often was), he never gave up on his patients and never stopped seeing them as human beings. He worked with his hospital to create a pioneering dedicated AIDS clinic. It became not only a place for treatment, but a loving community for the patients, many of whom had nowhere else to go. My father stills works at the same hospital today. Seeing patients is still one of his favorite things to do, and he measures his success by how well he treats them.
Since I began thinking about my career, my parents have encouraged me to do something that would make the world a better place, so that I could look in the mirror at the end of each day and know that I am improving the lives of others. Without their wholehearted support, I would not be serving with CYNH today.
PITW #160 reads, “Seek to have a hard head and a soft heart.” I have always known my parents to have the compassion to work in the service of others, the wisdom to understand what is right, and the courage and commitment to put their ideals into action. Every morning when I don my red jacket, I think of the values they passed on to me and am inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Read the third of our four part series: My Red Jacket Dedication: The Willingness to Say Yes