It’s in your hands

Civic Engagement Senior Corps Member Beecher Daniels works with VMware volunteers to paint a U.S. map on the blacktop at Linda Vista Elementary.

On Friday October 22nd, we partnered for the first time with the VMware Foundation, which is the recently founded community giving arm of Palo Alto based cloud computing company VMware.

We served at Linda Vista Elementary School, one of the only visual and performing arts elementary schools in the Alum Rock Unified School District. Many of the students from Linda Vista will move on to Joseph George Middle School, the only other visual and performing arts school in Alum Rock.

Linda Vista is also a California Distinguished School, an honor given by the Department of Education to some of California’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Schools selected for this award need to have demonstrated significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap.

The day got off to a rough start, but despite the weather we had a great turnout of enthusiastic volunteers, all of which are executive  leaders at VMware.

Everyone was so excited to add color to the campus of this school and reinforce the school’s culture of Academic Excellence, Talent and Creativity, Positive Relationships and Teamwork.

Since the school had a focus on the arts and creativity, we tried to incorporate that into the service we did there. We painted painter’s pallets throughout the hallways, painted the school’s mascot holding art supplies and books and we added color to the blacktop to brighten up the school’s atmosphere.

At the end of the day, the entire fourth and fifth grade classes came out to thank us and sang the school song. Afterwards there was a gift exchange, the students and the VMware executives each received a canvas mural painted by the other group for each other.

The day’s service was in our hands; which is a City Year founding story.

“We hold in our hands not only the consequences of our own decisions, but also the effect we can have on the actions of others.”

We could have chosen to move indoors, or canceled the service altogether. Volunteers could have been upset with the weather, but everyone chose to look at the positives of what we were doing;  to see what the students were going to get out of seeing a committed group of people working hard to create a beautiful place for them to learn.

If you’d like to see more photos from the day, check out the City Year Flickr photostream.

– Dan Blahnik, Civic Engagement Project Leader CYSJ


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