City Year Serves in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. said “Life’s most persistent question is: what are you doing for others?”  These profound words from Doctor King remind us of the empowerment and joy one can receive through a lifetime dedication to service. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day stands as a national holiday to encourage civic engagement in service work that strengthens our communities and echoes Kings’ commitment to fighting injustice.

 

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On Monday, January 21, 2013 Seattle’s entire City Year corps, staff and over 40 volunteers gathered at Denny International Middle School in West Seattle to engage in physical service. We served as a a team of dedicated children, current and former City Year board members, and employees of Starbucks; including President of US Operations, Cliff Burrows and Regional Director, Mitch Evans.
 
Denny International is a new building with many blank walls. To create a more welcoming and supportive environment for our scholars, we spent the day painting a large mural in one of the school’s main stairwells. Assistant Principal Patricia Rangel spoke to the powerful artwork designed by Intensive School Partnership Coordinator for Seattle Public School District, Nate Sanders, calling the mural “A project that’s an evolving mirror to our entire community about the importance of knowing our history, remembering our heroes, and recognizing that we contribute to this journey of justice every day in the commitment we make to our students and our work together.”

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Across the street, at the park which is part of The Southwest Teen Life Center and former location of the old Denny School building, City Year corps members and volunteers got their hands dirty weeding and landscaping rain gardens.  Each of the sizeable rain gardens are critical to the ecological health of the community and provide a natural filtration of our region’s rain water before reaching Puget Sound.  The project’s lead coordinator, Gretchen DeDecker with Seattle Public Schools claims the job done on Monday translates to nearly three months of staff work time. DeDecker thanks the corps, stating: “Today you reminded me why I LOVE City Year! Your positive spirit, energy, organization skills, and endurance made such a huge difference at the raingardens.”

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Corps Member Sam Boutelle proudly reflects on the meaning and impact of our MLK day service: “The civil rights movement demonstrated the imperative for the unity of purpose in effecting social change.  Although we didn’t move mountains on MLK day, I do believe that the collaboration and fellowship we got to enjoy as we served made the day brighter for all involved and demonstrated the power that we share together.”

Written by Becka Gross, City Year corps member serving as a dedicated tutor and mentor this year to the students at Denny International Middle School.

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Russell Investments Employees Give Back

Not only is Russell Investments a global leader in the financial industry with a stated purpose to improve financial security for people, but Russell is also committed to community involvement, associate empowerment and education.

Russell’s generous donation of 70 backpacks

Russell’s generous donation of 70 backpacks to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School as a result of the employee championed, Back to School Backpack Challenge.

These values were clearly exemplified at the start of the school year, when Russell associates came together for their first ever “Back to School Backpack Challenge” to
ensure that over 200 students in King and Pierce Counties started the school year
equipped with backpacks filled with essential school supplies that their family
might not otherwise be able to afford. These supplies included crayons, scissors, rulers, folders, paper, notebooks, colored pencils, tissue, glue, hand sanitizer, snacks and more.

Russell's John Gilman, Principal McMillian and CY

Russell employee, John Gilman, meets with Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School Principal, Cothron McMillian, and City Year team members after making the backpack delivery on the first day of school.

One of the schools lucky enough to be the recipient of Russell’s generosity was
City Year partner school, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. This vibrant elementary school has a mission that every child is able to achieve at high levels and that every adult is accountable for their success and is composed of a student body where 83% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Promptly following their delivery the morning of the first day of school, the backpacks were already making a difference in students’ lives. Concerned students and parents met with Principal McMillian explaining their lack of supplies and were immediately relieved to be the recipient of Russell’s donation.

First Day of School Assembly

Martin Luther King Elementary School celebrates their First Day of School Assembly with teachers, administrators and the City Year team. Seventy fortunate students will be the recipients of Russell’s Backpack Challenge.

Thank you, Russell, for your investment in our community – you are changing lives!

Last Service Day at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

Tamping at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

The 2010-2011 City Year Seattle year is coming to an end! Our last Comcast sponsored service project was on May 13th, at the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Throughout the day, we partnered with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Washington Conservation Corps to finish the start of a trail to make it more inviting to others, continue a different trail and mulch an area to encourage the growth of native species. It’s amazing to think of all the work City Year has done the six times we’ve been there.

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The work was exhausting and at times, very muddy. But we were able to accomplish a lot and as Jacobo Jimenez, our partner over at Seattle Parks and Recreation, said to us,

“The work that you’ve done is amazing. Creating these trails, working in the park six times, for more than eight hours each time and to do it with flair and a good sense of humor – thank you. When I was a child, the parks were always the place for me to go […] and you are recreating that experience for others.”

Over the course of the year, Comcast has sponsored City Year Seattle service projects like prepping with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for their annual Hop-a-Thon, gardening at the Bailey-Boushay House and Garfield High School, and cleaning kitchens for homeless women at the Elizabeth Gregory Home. We have cleared fields of Scotch broom, created beautifully paved trails for the people in Seattle’s communities and literally carried tons of rocks. We accomplished so much for our community during Fridays this year, and thank you, Comcast, for helping us make all of that possible.

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

Comcast Signature Service at Magnuson Park!

Recently, City Year Seattle went to Magnuson Park off Lake Washington. Magnuson Park is the second-largest park in Seattle with  grasslands, wooded hillsides, wetlands and shoreline. Although it was once a naval airfield, ten acres of concrete paving were removed last year and community volunteers have been actively working to restore the park.

City Year Seattle, with Comcast’s Signature Service Sponsorship and in collaboration with the Washington Conservation Corps and Seattle Parks and Recreation, was able to continue that process. We rebuilt trails and removed brush, as well as cleared the ever-present invasive Himalayan blackberry and a species that was new to City Year Seattle: Scotch broom. Native to western and central Europe, the plant crowds out native species and destroys wildlife habitats in North America. Every year, it costs the timber industry millions of dollars and inhibits reforestation. We were able to clear an entire field of Scotch broom with some impressively large specimens and prevent new seeds from being spread around the Pacific Northwest.

As one community member said as she walked by, “Thank you so much for your work here. It really makes a difference.” A special thank you to Comcast for helping us make that difference!

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

Photos by Melissa Jensen, City Year Seattle/King County corps member at the JPMorgan Chase/NELA Diplomas Now Team at Denny International Middle School

Finishing Our Work: Comcast Signature Service at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

City Year and Comcast

The last time we were at the West Duwamish Greenbelt, City Year Seattle shifted 28 tons of rocks and created 81 feet of base layer rock for a new raised trail – but we didn’t quite finish. A few Fridays ago, with Comcast’s Signature Service Sponsorship, we returned to finish the trail and begin several other projects because there’s always more service to be done!

We began a smaller gravel trail deeper in the forest, trimmed trees and bushes that were growing too close to the edge of trails and cleared invasive blackberry. By the end of the day, we had completely finished the raised trail, beautified the forest and helped to protect the forest from encroaching blackberry.  As Jacobo Jimenez of Seattle Parks and Recreation said last time, “The trail that you saw here earlier today? We used to have to rebuild it on an annual basis.” Now he doesn’t and the Seattle community can enjoy our parks year-round.

Take a look at the slideshow below to see what our day was like. Thank you Comcast, for your support of our work and its results!

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