As a City Year corps member turned staff member, I don’t often have the opportunity to work on a school campus. But the week of December 8-14th was very different. Last week, I was part of the ‘prep team’, a small but mighty crew of City Year corps and staff members who helped to prepare Ocala Middle School for Project Inspire.
Project Inspire is a two-day transformational project and NVIDIA’s replacement for an annual holiday party. While serving alongside Care Force as part of the prep team, I was able to see the day to day progress made toward completely transforming the Ocala Middle School campus. One of the most rewarding pieces of working on the prep team occurred when a student, teacher or staff member passing by would look at all of us in yellow and say ‘thank you’. Knowing that all the work we were doing was so greatly impacting the community at Ocala made all of the bumps, bruises and sore arms worth it.
In the four days leading up to Project Inspire I learned many new skills and carried what seemed like a million 2 by 4s, but the really amazing part came on Friday and Saturday when over 1,200 NVIDIA volunteers joined us to completely transform Ocala’s campus. On Friday, I led a group of NVIDIA employees in mixing, pouring and laying concrete for work on the East Valley Softball fields. I was incredibly proud of the hard work my group put in and as I walked my volunteers off campus, I discussed the impact our work was going to have on the students. On Saturday, due to my newfound expertise with concrete, I was given a concrete crew to fill in a number of different areas. This time my group was comprised of NVIDIA employees, a corps member’s friend, a staff member from Ocala’s after school program, and teacher who had been at Ocala since early 2000. As we mixed and poured concrete, our group discussed how much Ocala needed this external face lift and how excited the students would be to see how much the community was invested in them. As my group wrapped up our day of hard work, we were able to see just how large of an impact the work of 1,200 volunteers could have on a middle school campus.
Aptly named for the feeling you have when you leave each day, Project Inspire stays with me throughout the year. From the smiles and thank you’s from the Ocala and East Side community to the physical transformation made, I am able to remember all the good that can be done when people work together to create change. For me it truly embodies City Year’s motto and I can see that giving a year really can change the world.
Written by Emily Weber, Development Associate