Comcast Signature Service around Seattle!

Comcast and City Year at Bailey-Boushay House

Recently City Year Seattle, with the help of Comcast’s Signature Service Sponsorship, teamed up to show Seattle all the work that a group of dedicated idealists can accomplish in a day. Corps members met at three different places:

At the Bailey-Boushay House, we learned about the history and mission of the place prior to service, which greatly contributed to our motivation and work ethic. To maintain the aesthetic beauty and artistic nature of the Bailey-Boushay House, we worked within the gardens, removing invasive species and preserving general upkeep.

David Pavlik, the volunteer program manager, conducted tours of the facility for corps members, allowing us to view the different art mediums distributed throughout the building. Pavlik also emphasized the importance of the facility’s numerous volunteers and their valued efforts to keep spirits alive and well.

After reflecting on our work at the end of the day, we were motivated to create our own piece of art for the Bailey-Boushay House. Inspired by a memorial branch in the mediation room, we constructed a branch-based piece of our own for the volunteer room. We wanted volunteers to have a place to hang their memories of the BBH, to give them an outlet for remembrance and hope.

Comcast and City Year at Duwamish Longhouse

Meanwhile, other corps members were at the Duwamish Longhouse, which sits by the river of the same name and is squeezed in the valley between West Seattle and the rest of the city. The current Chair of the tribe, Ms. Cecile Hansen, told us of her people’s tumultuous history and the injustices they are still fighting to this day.The difficult ongoing fight for federal tribal recognition seemed to be at the forefront of her mind, but her strength and sense of hopefulness were inspiring. City Year Seattle corps members helped the Longhouse staff create a multi-tiered garden and lent a hand in sprucing up their grounds for the springtime.

At the end of the day, we talked about the tribe’s painful history and their perseverance in the face of so much adversity, as well as what it meant to have given our time and energy to their cause. Indeed, our own part may have been small, but the garden we planted can now be seen by all as they enter the place that Seattle’s first people call their own.

Our service always feels purposeful, but working at the Elizabeth Gregory Home was truly inspiring. The Elizabeth Gregory Home is a two-year program that graduates its women at the end with job training and greater potential for success, and provides transitional housing and individualized case management to single adult women who are trying to overcome overwhelming obstacles. In a question and answer session, we were told that nearly 60% of the women who go through EGH were victims of domestic abuse and made homeless after fleeing their difficult situations.

Corps members at the Elizabeth Gregory Home spent the morning cleaning and organizing the kitchen. We scrubbed down the walls, stove, and washing machine and organized all the drawers and spices, as well as took inventory and cleaned out the pantry. The women take great care of the home but with a permanent staff of only two, there just isn’t enough time to do certain housekeeping tasks. When we left that afternoon, the oven and walls sparkled, drawers that had once been crammed with randomly placed kitchen items organized, and about 100 pounds of expired pantry items composted. One corps member said, “It felt so great doing all those little housekeeping tasks. Those women have bigger obstacles to overcome – I’m glad we could help them out in that small way.”

Many thanks to Comcast for sponsoring our service and helping to make our work possible. View our gallery to see more pictures of our corps members in action!

Text and photos by Melissa Jensen, Roukiatou Aboubacar and Malia Makowski, City Year Seattle/King County corps members

Ripples of Hope: Celebrating City Year’s Impact

Thank You City Year

City Year corps members make a huge impact upon the lives of students and sometimes, they thank us in especially unique and heartfelt ways. In this picture, a student wrote down everything he learned from their City Year corps members in the shape of a City Year logo.

On April 27th at 5:30 p.m., City Year Seattle will hold its annual gala event, “Ripples of Hope.” Our goal is to raise approximately one-third of our annual budget so that corps members can continue mentoring and tutoring students like Esperanza, Jayne, and Haytham as they go on to graduate from high school.

Here’s a look at our Ripples of Hope sponsors, with a special thank you to T-Mobile as our Ripples of Hope presenting sponsor.

To all of our sponsors: thank you for your gifts to City Year Seattle! You help make our work possible.

Register for Ripples of Hope today to support City Year Seattle and our community. We hope to see you there.

Comcast Career Day in Seattle!

City Year Seattle in Front of Comcast Headquarters in the Washington Region

City Year Seattle in front of the Washington Region Comcast Headquarters

Last Friday, City Year Seattle had the chance to spend time with Comcast employees when we met at their Washington headquarters for Comcast Career Day. City Year Seattle is lucky enough to be one of the 12 City Year sites participating in Comcast Career Day this year. After reading about the day in cities like Detroit and Boston, we were definitely excited.

City Year at Comcast

Throughout the day, we attended workshops run by Comcast recruiters who discussed utilizing our City Year experience on resumes, improving our interviewing skills and practicing professionalism in the workplace. We also participated in panel discussions with high flying executives and front-line representatives, finding out how they launched their careers and what it’s really like to work for Comcast. The Comcast employees told us over and over again, “Comcast is a great place to work! The company really cares about you.” By the end of the day, corps members like Kendall Morgan were asking, “Do you have any openings here for idealistic 17-24 year-olds?”

City Year Seattle Taking Notes!

We also met with several Comcast human resources representatives who reviewed our resumes to meet with us one-on-one and discuss how to improve them. I know I’m not the only person who has gleaned some great tips for making myself stand out. Corps member Hoang Lam said, “The most useful part of the day for me was probably the resume critique. Having someone else look at my resume and present a different perspective will go a long way towards improving my LACY plans.”

Corps member Mariel Venhuizen, who worked with Comcast to plan the day, said, “Comcast absolutely values the City Year partnership. They were basically willing to do anything for us and they started planning this day two months in advance. A lot of what happened that day was based upon the feedback we provided them, telling them what our corps members need to be successful after their year of service to their communities.”

City Year at Comcast Career Day

Generating ideas for resume writing.

Not only has Comcast supported City Year Seattle throughout the year with their Comcast Signature Service Days, but they are also helping our corps members prepare for our lives after City Year. Comcast Career Day was a day with much-appreciated advice for all of us on how to utilize our City Year experience as we launch our careers in fields as varied as education, medicine, law and public policy.

Thank you, Comcast, for working so hard to ensure this day would be great. We appreciate our partnership so much!

Text and photos by Sherry Tiao, City Year Seattle/King County External Relations Project Leader

Mayor McGinn Presents Kennedy Legacy Award to City Year

Presenting the President John F. Kennedy Legacy Award to City Year Seattle

As he was preparing to present the City Year corps members at Aki Kurose Middle School with the President John F. Kennedy Legacy Award for their service, Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn listened to corps members tell him success story after success story about students who had made tremendous gains this year at the school.

“President Kennedy inspired an entire generation of young people to work to change the world,” the Mayor told the thirteen young idealists gathered around the table. “‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.’ Those are powerful words. That’s what you do. You inspire the students you work with, and that’s important. Thank you for your work in our schools.”

The corps members were excited to receive the award, and they were even more excited about the opportunity to talk about their students’ progress. Corps member Ed Brown told the Mayor about a student whose absences amounted to four weeks of class during the first semester and who has missed only one day during the second semester – and the student called Ed’s cell phone to make sure Ed knew that he was honestly sick that day, not skipping school.

“You’ve learned an important principle of organizing,” the Mayor told Ed. “There’s something very powerful about getting someone to make a personal commitment to someone else. That’s what your student has done, he’s made a commitment to you, and that’s powerful.”

Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn in a Roundtable

When team leader Nick Hernandez handed the Mayor a chart showing student progress on standardized tests in the school, the Mayor said “That was my next question: how do you guys measure your impact?”

Nick walked the Mayor through the data. “Each corps member has a focus list of “at-risk” students who show early warning signs that without intervention will be more likely to drop out of school. During the first semester of this year, the students on our lists advanced 54% more than the school average on standardized tests.”

Eighth grade teacher Mrs. Wickstead put this another way. “A lot of the students represented by this data are advancing a year and half or two years in a single school year. Many of them started the year very far behind and they’ve made significant progress. They’re catching up to their peers.”

Toward the end of the meeting, the Mayor had to hurry – he had volunteered to teach an eighth grade social studies class in four minutes. So he quickly turned to Aki Kurose Principal Mia Williams and asked, “What do you think? Do you like these guys?”

Mrs. Williams told the Mayor, “Besides making sure we have an excellent teacher in every classroom, this program is the most important thing we can do at Aki Kurose to help all our students succeed.”

Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn Listens to Corps Members

All of City Year’s corps members sincerely thank the Mayor for the honor of the President John F. Kennedy Legacy Award. It means a lot to them to be recognized for the hard work they put in every day at their schools. There’s a lot of work for all of us in Seattle – corps members, teachers, administrators, parents, volunteers, school districts, the city itself – to accomplish to ensure that our students have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life. As President Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

Let us begin.

Text and photos by Adam Nance, City Year Seattle/King County Development Director

Alaska Airlines Visits City Year Seattle!

Alaska Airlines CEO Bill Ayer talking to two City Year Seattle corps members

Team leader Drea Bustamante explaining City Year's Whole School, Whole Child program to Alaska Airlines CEO Bill Ayer.

“Are you a scientist? You look like a scientist!” a fifth grader asked Bill Ayer.  What he didn’t realize is that he was talking to the CEO of Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines, known for its emphasis on community involvement, has a CEO who truly leads by example. Last year, Ayer was honored at Ripples of Hope, City Year Seattle’s annual fundraising dinner, for his longstanding commitment to the Seattle community.

On Tuesday, Ayer demonstrated his commitment and Alaska Airlines’ values once again as he visited a City Year elementary school to witness the Whole School, Whole Child team in action. He arrived first thing in the morning to meet with corps members to observe City Year’s before-school Homework Club and then sat down with the corps members for a roundtable discussion about City Year Seattle’s service. Corps members Malia Makowski and Robert Melick shared their stories about the personal and individual impact corps members have upon students and just how important those interactions are.

Malia’s experience was about a student named James*, who struggled in school almost solely because of his lack of confidence. She coached him through his homework, taught him the importance of doing well in school, and most importantly, built his confidence in his abilities. As she spoke, she passed around James’ homework folder. She had made it a point to hold on to his homework for him every day, preventing “accidental” losses so that he could feel accomplished and proud after actually completing each assignment.

“Through working with James consistently this year, James’ scores have absolutely improved but what means more to me is that his confidence has as well,” Malia said. “He actually wants to show me what he has done and reminds me if I forget to hold on to it for him – I think he is actually grateful for that.”

Mr. Ayer spoke about the impact that these individual relationships have upon students and how change is made “One James at a time.” In the afternoon, he took his time to walk around and sit down to talk to some of the students. Abel*, a first grader, said, “He was really friendly. He was like a talk show host!”

Alaska Airlines CEO Bill Ayer speaking with two elementary school students

Bill Ayer speaking with a few students.

Alaska Airlines’ support for City Year and the visit from their CEO  reaffirms the message of their commitment to their community. They support a range of non-profits as diverse as the Nature Conservancy to City Year, helping the Pacific Northwest remain the vibrant place it is now. From all of us at City Year Seattle: thank you!

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the students we work with.

Photos by Adam Nance

Text by Robert Melick, City Year Seattle/King County corps member