#MakeBetterHappen — City Year AmeriCorps Member Appreciation Month 2018

| Donna Abrusci

At JHS218 James P Sinnott in Brooklyn, the City Year New York team works to #MakeBetterHappen.

We have the honor again this year during this month of March to celebrate City Year AmeriCorps Members Appreciation Month. Like last year, our sponsored City Year New York team is based in JHS218 James P Sinnott in Brooklyn. I had the fortunate experience of meeting with this team several times over the 2017 – 2018 school year and let me tell you, WOW! They are so engaged in their school, and while I observed their interactions with the students during a school visit, there is a true connection. The impact is palpable.

If you are not familiar with City Year, well let me fill you. City Year works to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support students actually need, and what their schools are designed to provide. Their teams of AmeriCorps members work as tutors, mentors, and role models to help students reach 10th grade on time and on track, making them three times more likely to graduate.

I recently met with this year’s City Year Impact Manager, Brannon O’Connor, and she shared with me some of the exciting programs that she and her Corps member team are leading at JHS218 to #MakeBetterHappen.

  • For Valentine’s Day, there was a school wide appreciation event. The students were asked to write down what they appreciated and why. The whole hallway in the school was lined with notes from the students. The valuable lesson for these middle schoolers was to take the time to say thank you and show gratitude.
  • There is a coding program on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the middle schoolers who are interested in technology. Microsoft Surface devices are being used to utilize their coding programming. Brannon shared that a lot of the female students are getting into coding, so exciting!
  • The Corp members also host what is called a Hands-on Club, titled intentionally, as this can cover many topics. Including, but not limited to, science experiments and thought-provoking activities such as vision boards. These boards can be made up of a collage of pictures and/or words that are inspiring and/or speak to the students on who they are and where they want to go. This club is intended to keep the students future minded; a way to open their horizons for what comes next. The possibilities are endless!
  • To keep the students engaged during spring break in April, the Corp members provide state test prep and enrichment activities. The students can receive breakfast and lunch during this time and are still able to receive academic support by the Corp member team.

And lest me not forget to mention the impact with the teachers at JHS218. By having this Corp member team in this school, it enhances and creates a great relationship between the students and the teachers.

What will life after City Year look like for these Corps members? Well, let me tell you — two Corps members will be attending medical school, one will be partaking in a teaching fellows program, one will be going to law school, and another will be getting her masters in social work. This is so impressive and inspiring! The impact that these Corps members are making in JHS218 will go beyond the reach of Brooklyn. They are truly making better happen.

Thank you to the entire AmeriCorps team at JHS218! Not only do you give a year of service, you also give your heart and soul to the school and students and are justly making a difference in their lives and their community. Your impact, they will carry with them always. Each of you are shaping the futures of these middle schoolers. Not only are you appreciated during the month of March but all year long! #MAKEBETTERHAPPEN!

  • Alex Williams
  • Columani Stoney
  • Deb Chrispin
  • Fahrod Jacelon
  • Liron Goldring
  • Melvin Rosario
  • Pete Spurrell
  • Sam Solomotis
  • Susan Thomas



Donna Abrusci

Donna Abrusci is a Business Program Manager covering Operations and Philanthropic related activities in the New York Metro region. In June 2016 Donna reached 21 years with Microsoft. Donna’s role is quite diverse which allows her to work across a variety of business groups therefore offers her the ability to know many of the Microsoft employees in the New York and New Jersey area. Donna and her team work with varying non-profit organizations, including but not limited to, Girls Who Code, City Year New York and We Connect The Dots.