By Bryan Oczkus, AmeriCorps member '16-'17, City Year Sacramento, Rosa Parks K-8
On a chilly Saturday morning we gathered at McClatchy Park awaiting the upcoming Walk for Literacy. One hundred percent of the proceeds for this not for profit fundraiser went to supporting literacy in Sacramento public schools. As City Year members we guided the vast array of participants along the four-mile pre-designated route between McClatchy and Caesar Chavez Parks. At our end point we were graciously ushered into literacy fair promoting education in Sacramento.
I met up with my childhood best friend and team. We chatted, took pictures, made capes and waited for the walk to begin. At our first circle the organizer gratefully thanked City Year for our support and appreciatively remarked about our numbers, and commitment. We embarked on our journey along 2nd avenue encircled by cop cars as we passed through the 99 freeways by pass and continued up 24th, 22nd and T Street. As we approached our destination, onlookers curiously looked out windows, cars and around sidewalk corners staring at our group of black shirt walkers encircled by cop cars and barred by volunteers on each side. I remember at one point during the route a women eagerly leaned out her top floor window and questioned my friend and I about our role in the walk to literacy and asked if I was a teacher. I proudly explained City Year and our role in education. Another local restaurant owner inquisitively wondered what we were doing on our walk offering us another opportunity to advertise literacy in the greater Sacramento area.
The fair permeated with a warm family friendly atmosphere. Vendors from community organizations like Reading Partners, Sacramento Fire Department, Crocker art museum, 916 Ink, SCUSD and others. Events included a live band, raffle, food and a table filled with free children books. I enjoyed learning about various resources available to students. By the time we closed with final circle I felt happy and excited about the experience with my team and friend.
This event still continues to impact my service. At the beginning of the year many kids in my class were reading class textbooks meant for classroom instruction instead of fiction novels meant for entertainment. At the Literacy Fair there was a stand with lots of popular and well-written children’s books that were free for participants and volunteers to take home. I was able to grab a stack of excellent books including Judy Moody, Usborne, Goosebumps, and Magic Tree house in others. For the last six weeks these books have circulated my classroom. Just yesterday, a child asked me for a book to read, traversing to my personal library in the corner of our room I was able to give her a book I obtained from the Walk for Literacy Fair. I am also grateful for the chance to spend a morning with my best friend and team. I am also thankful for the affirmation of our service I obtained from this event. One local broadcaster gave a speech about how his third grade teacher’s persistence and determination to teach him to read changed his life and allowed him to become a productive member of society. To me this is a reminder of the importance of City Year service. I am thankful and grateful for Walk for Literacy and blessed to have participated.