By Nina Martinez, Senior AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader

The 918, my new home away from home. Tulsa is such an amazing city filled with one of a kind architecture, low-cost groceries, beautiful sunsets, and very friendly people. Although this city has a lot to offer it is not where I consider home. For me, the holidays seem to be the time when homesickness is at an all-time high. Travel is costly and time-consuming, and for most holidays it makes more sense to stay here in Tulsa than make the journey back home. This year I was fortunate enough that my family decided to make the 600-mile trip from New Mexico, to me. This was the first Thanksgiving that there were less than 30 people sharing a table.

Last year, I served my Corps Year in the sunny city of Miami, Florida. When I decided that I wanted to come back for one more year of service with City Year, I really wanted to be somewhere closer to home. Tulsa was one of the closest sites to New Mexico - well, closer than Florida that is. Despite never having been to Oklahoma, I took a chance and moved. It has been one of the best decisions that I have made. I love how supportive the community is. Although I am far from home, I know that I am where I'm supposed to be. I am making a difference, I am a part of something bigger than myself, part of something great. That alone makes it all worth it. Worth missing a few holidays or breaking tradition.

This was the first of many Thanksgiving that I will host. My parents and my sister drove to Tulsa Wednesday morning and left early Sunday. We explored my new city and made memories. From first time Philbrook guests to The Lights of Rhema. We shared stories, laughs, and of course plenty of Red Chile. Although it was not our typical Thanksgiving, nothing else seems to matter as long as we are together. It was just what I needed to come back to service, refreshed, energized, and thankful. Words can not express how thankful I am to have a family that is so supportive of my journey. I don’t know where I would be today without my family. 

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