By Kaci Peña, Operations Coordinator
Baseball has long been revered as America’s pastime, a symbol of what is good and right in the world. Millions of fans gather religiously each year as the new season begins, hoping to push their teams to the ultimate ending, the World Series. Players line up, dressed carefully in their uniform that will double as their armor for the next 6 months, as fans watch carefully, donning every good luck charm they can. Opening Day is the symbol of a new beginning, a look into what is to come. It is a chance for teams and fans to come together for one common goal- to push past whatever trouble loomed last season into the bright future of what is to come.
The beginning of a City Year AmeriCorps service year is often filled with questions about what the next 10 months can bring, just like the beginning of baseball season. Corps members have gone through their training, gotten a small taste of what is to come during their term of service, but still might not know exactly what to expect. Excitement buzzes around as there is talk of the progress they want to see with their students, the projects they want to work on, and the growth they hope to find in themselves. For many, this is the first season they are finding an independence within themselves, the first time they feel they are going to make a difference in a place they’ve only seen from afar. For others, this is an opportunity to affect change within a community they have always been part of.
Opening Day had finally arrived, and the excitement was tangible. Soon, the chairs would be filled with people ready to cheer on this year’s AmeriCorps members. With each passing minute, more and more red jackets began to appear at the Tandy Children's Garden at Tulsa Central Library, ready for the moment they would publicly commit to their service. Parents and families, school partners and administrators, strangers and friends all began to arrive, eager to applaud the work to be done and the new season about to begin. Andrea Pemberton, 2015-2016 City Year Tulsa alumna, addressed the Corps with beautiful sentiments about what a year of service meant to her and how it impacted her future and inspired her to be teacher. Paula Shannon, Deputy Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, extended a heartfelt sentiment of gratitude for what City Year does for the Tulsa Public Schools. Our Executive Director, Paul Davis, offered remarks regarding the impact of a unified City Year team in a community. Complete with several remarks from City Year members concerning why they serve, the day leaned toward one commonality- it doesn’t matter where we come from, or even where we are going, right now we live to make a difference.
Community members, principals, and even former City Year members came to offer their sincere congratulations to the current AmeriCorps members, and to extend a hand of thankfulness for the work they would do this year. The laughter that was shared over delicious breakfast tacos from T-Town Tacos made the morning all the more enjoyable. As the morning began to come to a close, the joy among the Corps with visible. Leaving with their City Year mugs in hand and smiles on their faces, the morning was counted a success.
As in baseball, each new year at City Year brings something different. There are times when we as servants of our community see our work create change, and times it feels unnoticed. Opening Day is a chance to let go of what has happened in the past, the standards set on the year ahead unintentionally, and recognize that this year is different. The journey this year will take us on will reinvent how we view change, how we view hard work. Thomas Boswell wrote in his book Why Time Begins on Opening Day, “The crowd and its team had finally understood that in games, as in many things, the ending, the final score, is only part of what matters. The process, the pleasure, the grain of the game count too.” Opening Day, just as for baseball, is about the beginning of a journey. It is a way to begin the year together, offering support and gratitude for the hard work about to come, and a recognition that we are all in this together.
Click here for more photos from City Year Tulsa's Opening Day celebration.