Upon joining City Year AmeriCorps, each member is presented with a red jacket, which they dedicate to a person, idea, or cause that inspires them to serve. Most people dedicate their red jackets to family or friends — but Merrowvista seasonal staffer Grace Blinkoff said it was a no-brainer for her to dedicate hers to AYF.
The former Merrowvista camper and seasonal staff member said that, like her City Year red jacket, the mission of the AYF inspires her to wake up and serve others each day. City Year AmeriCorps members work daily in underserved schools for an academic year, working with students to help them succeed in their educations and lives. When Blinkoff graduated from Oberlin College in spring 2020, she said she wasn’t quite ready for grad school and wanted to take time to do something meaningful, which is how she landed with City Year in fall 2020.
Blinkoff credits her time as a Merrowvista staff member with helping her realize she has a strong passion for working with kids. Blinkoff believes she helps others — whether it’s campers or her students — be their best selves by recentering herself every morning. In doing so, she said she creates a continuous cycle of enkindled spirits, where she inspires the students to be their best selves, which in turn inspires her to be her best self.
In fact, the AYF motto “My own self, at my very best, all the time,” is what first spoke to Blinkoff as a new camper years ago. She said her time with the AYF taught her she is a lot stronger — physically and mentally — than she ever thought she could be.