The City Year Red Jacket, A Promise

“She’s the strongest person I know,” a corps member said describing a friend to whom she dedicated her red jacket.

One of the most visible elements of City Year is the red jacket. The red jacket is a symbol of permanence, guidance and support. It is a promise that every member of our organization who wears the jacket is committed to serving our nation’s children and each corps member is working to positively impact our nation’s drop-out crisis by working as a mentor and tutor. When a corps member puts on the red jacket, they become a representative for the entire organization–they embody City Year’s mission, culture, and values.

“He made me who I am today,” a corps member said of a loved one whom inspires and motivates his service

This year’s Red Jacket Ceremony was held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in South Seattle. At the ceremony every corps member was asked to dedicate their jacket to someone influential in their lives or an inspirational idea. Dedicating the red jacket a very personal experience, and then sharing that dedication helps to build Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of the beloved community.

“She inspries me to be persevere through challanges I will face during my service year,” a corps member said a loved one that inspired him to serve.

Dr. King once said “…something must happen so as to touch the hearts and souls of men that they will come together, not because the law says it, but because it is natural and right. In other words, our ultimate goal is integration which is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living…Only through nonviolence can this goal be attained, for the aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community.”

“You don’t know service, until you’ve met him,” a corps member said of a loved one to whom he dedicated his red jacket.

When you share your story with other people, you are opening up and trusting that people will be ready to listen with an open heart and an open mind. As a City Year member, there is nothing more important than putting on the red jacket, as all of your power and idealism flows from that seemingly simple action. Sharing what the red jacket symbolizes is a meaningful demonstration of what motivates us to serve and ultimately why we each work to build the beloved community.

“I’m so proud to serve the students. This jacket is for them,” a corps member said of the students she will mentor and tutor this year.

Text by Senior Corps Member Denise Rene Taylor