My CYteam: The Johnson Family


written by Matt Repka, corps member serving on the Serve DC team at Johnson Middle School

For eleven individuals whose lives never intersected prior to this past August, City Year Washington DC’s Serve DC team at Johnson Middle School quickly took to calling itself the Johnson “family” – the name a testament to the close-knit relationships shared by this particular team serving off the Suitland Parkway.

They’re an eccentric bunch, difficult to describe simply – which is why I asked my teammates to do it for me. What does the phrase “Johnson Family” mean to them? Here are their responses.

Ijeoma Anyanwu, corps member
Age: 22
From: Washington, DC
Attended: Sewanee: The University of the South

The Johnson Family means a lot to me. It probably means just as much as my real family means to me. Okay, not that much but I still love them. We are a tight-knit group of individuals that support each other through thick and thin.

Troy Brandon, team leader
Age: 22
From: Springfield, MA
Attended: Westfield State University/Howard University

The “Johnson Family” is a group of driven individuals who work through life together no matter what.

Deena Guirguis, corps member
Age: 22
From: Montgomery County, MD
Attended: University of Maryland, College Park

You know how siblings can say whatever they want to each other because they know that the other person is going to still love them anyways? That’s us. We all genuinely like and care about each other and the relationship that our team has goes beyond co-workers or friends, even – we’re really a family. A hilarious, multi-cultural mess of a family.

Allie Harris, program manager
Age: 22
From: Baltimore, MD

I think of a family and I think that we go through our problems, and we’re a working class family – we work real hard. But when it comes time to unite and bond with one another, that’s what we do, and that’s what families are for.

Katie Hanna, corps member
Age: 22
From: Asheville, NC
Attended: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

From day one, Troy, our team leader, told us that we are a family. I was hesitant about being placed in a middle school, but hearing that I was not only part of a team, but part of a family, made so much of a difference. My team is always there to support me, and we truly have bonded like a family.

Romaine Kelly, corps member
Age: 22
From: Bronx, NY
Attended: Temple University

The Johnson Family is a family of Johnsons at Johnson Middle School.

Anthony Martino, corps member
Age: 23
From: Louisville, KY
Attended: Elmira College

It means a solid unit of people who have each others’ backs, no matter how difficult things get.

Matt Repka, corps member
Age: 23
From: Bethesda, MD
Attended: Tufts University

It’s a source of strength – people you can rely on in good times and bad.

Jessica Smith, corps member
Age: 22
From: Carson, CA
Attended: University of California, Los Angeles

“Johnson Family” means the Family at Johnson; not corps members, but a group of 17-24 diverse group of individuals that came together and are a family.

Sarah Theobald, corps member
Age: 23
From: Wyoming, Ohio
Attended: Denison University

The Johnson Family is my support system at school. I rely on them for encouragement, motivation, perspective, and most of all, laughter.

Caitlyn Yuschak, corps member
Age: 22
From: Dresher, PA
Attended: Elon University

Being stronger than a team. Being there for each other no matter what and knowing that even if there are small tensions or issues we love each other.

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