I enjoy service days and as a photographer, I feel as though I get a unique perspective on them. I don’t have just one project or role on the day and I’m not confined to one specific part of the day, I don’t help to plan or prep and I don’t engage in a lot of hands on service. But I do get to engage with the volunteers and witness the amazing transformation of the school from behind a camera lens. I get to see it all! I get to observe, watch and capture great moments as the school gets turned into a place that students, teachers and community members can be proud of–something that they can look at and say, “Yeah, I did that!” This last one with CEB on Friday, May 17th was no different. City Year corps members led volunteers from the CEB and students from J.C. Nalle Elementary school in a transformative day of service.
I love getting to witness a school get completely transformed by the spirit and energy of City Year corps members and community volunteers. I especially enjoy the service days that can involve the students of the space that is being transformed. At J.C. Nalle Elementary School, that is exactly what I got to see. The student volunteers at J.C. Nalle dove into service without a moment’s hesitation. Maybe it was the prospect of getting to play in dirt as they weeded, re-soiled and planted 16 different garden boxes or maybe it was the prospect of getting to put some paint on a 150+ foot wall, but I like to think that it was the fact that they got to help make their school a better place to learn and play.
The best part of the day was getting to see the CEB volunteers interact and engage with the students. Whether it was creating competitions on who could lay down the best mulch or helping them paint a straight edge or teaching them about the importance of good soil and worms for gardens, the CEB volunteers made the day fun and engaging for them.
Service days are a chance for the community to come together and make a difference in the lives of the students. Getting to see them and capture small moments from these days has been a great joy of mine through my second year of service with City Year and I look forward to participating in many more in the future, hopefully from the other side of the lens.
Alex Richards, author, is a Community Engagement Project Leader and Senior Corps Member.