Serving for the present and the future

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyday this week a City Year San José/Silicon Valley staff or Corps Member will share how the words and actions of Martin Luther King, Jr. has impacted their life. Today, Corps Member Jake Beaman reflects on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I will never forget these inspirational words because in third grade our teacher asked the class to memorize parts of Dr. Kings “I Have a Dream” speech.  This was the excerpt I had to learn by heart.

I remember thinking how amazing Dr King’s speech was because he was protesting not only for that time of 1963, but for his children and the future.  As a nine-year-old I realized that sometimes when you fight for something, you aren’t fighting for yourself but for the future to be a better place.

Now as a 23-year-old City Year Corps Member,  I realize that my team and I are not only tutoring and mentoring students to help them this year; we are working towards helping them create  a future for themselves with more opportunities.

I serve at Lee Mathson Middle School on the east side of San José, where we run an afterschool program and do one on one literacy and math tutoring during the school day.

Many of our students have unbelievably tough backgrounds whether it’s growing up in gang-ridden neighborhoods, living in poverty, or struggling to learn the English language. With all these hardships, I am incredibly inspired by so many of our students who are forced to grow up so fast.

If I can help teach a student to read in English and another team member can encourage a student to be confident in themselves, then I know we are we are not only helping today, but the future as well.

In the long run, maybe this helps one student go to college and another avoids entering a gang. I am so proud of the work my Mathson Middle School City Year team does because I know we will have lasting effects in the community.

I end with this Dr. King quote because it reminds me why I serve and am proud to be a City Year Corps Member:

“Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”

Jake Beaman, Corps Member CYSJ

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