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Seven Years of My Life and Service

June 3, 2009

I found out from a colleague of mine last week that the Heroes programs, Young Heroes and City Heroes, have been cut because City Year and Americorps simply can’t afford them anymore.

I was a Young Hero for two years and a City Hero for four, both at City Year San Jose. For every single leadership opportunity– advisory boards and committees within the Heroes program, mainly– I volunteered or was chosen. I received three Presidential Service Awards simply from participating in the program. I’ve done over a thousand hours of community service through the Heroes programs. In freshman year, I was chosen to represent the new City Heroes program at the end-of-year City Year gathering in Boston, Cyzygy. One of my best friends from the Heroes programs is now legally my sister.

In short, the program was a huge part of my life.

I’m incredibly sad to see it go, and incredibly disappointed in the current state of things that made it impossible for the programs to continue. President Obama issued a call to service, and this is not how we should be answering that call. Yes, the economy’s in the crapper, but these programs could have helped to pull it out, in the long run. I know at least a dozen former Heroes personally who would not have gone to college if not for the programs. Because of their participation and their service, they’ll be ready to get real, competitive jobs that bring tax flow and money flow to wherever they settle down. Former Heroes will stimulate the economy, not burden it. And when, in another seven years, the generation of kids who never had these programs available graduates high school and enters the work force or higher education, I think it will show.

When I was twelve, I referred to what I did every Saturday as “saving the world.” I don’t think I was hyperbolizing at the time. The programs were, and are, incredibly important in the lives of thousands of young people. They will be sorely missed.

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