Being an AmeriCorps Coach at Playworks is no small feat. Throughout the year, you are asked to complete 1,700 hours of service. Weekend service projects are common, you recruit and coach students for a basketball extravaganza, and you’re encouraged to spend a lot of time reflecting on why you chose to do a year of service with Playworks and the ways that you serve your community.
As the end of the school year draws near, we are preparing to launch our AmeriCorps members into their next adventure, whether it be another year of service with Playworks or moving on to a new job, school, or other exciting experience. At our end of year AmeriCorps Celebration, we asked each Corps member to write a letter to an incoming Playworks Coach who will be trained and onboarded in August, sharing lessons learned, advice, and encouragement. The following are excerpts from their letters.
“The biggest thing I battled this year was feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. The truth is, showing up every day is enough. Providing these students with someone to feel comfortable with, providing them with someone to look up to and grow with is so essential to our youth. Show up every day, be yourself, and if you’re having a bad day, don’t worry – those kids got you… Be you. The students will follow.”
“The only thing I can say is to take it all in. All the good and bad days, the kids crying about not winning Bob the Bunny, and the ones who make you cute drawings. You might run into a lot of defining moments in your personal or professional career and you’re going to do amazing. Take a deep breath… they’re just kids who want to have fun!”
“You’ve got this. Things WILL get hard, and you will question why you are standing in the cold with maybe two students listening. Do it for them. You are hired for a reason. You are here for a reason. Change one life while you are serving. One becomes two which spreads to the whole school. You are the spark that everyone knows and loves. Believe in yourself.”
“First, breathe and trust your training. Everything you know and everything that you are is needed. Put the kids and fun first and it will all fall into place. Lean on the team. Other coaches can be a great help and even better friends.”
“This is going to be such a great experience. You are going to positively impact so many students and change their lives. Utilize your team and support at Playworks. Everyone wants to see you grow and succeed.”
“Serving for a whole year in a school can be hard and challenging sometimes, but it’s the most fun job I’ve ever had. You are going to be making a real impact on a lot of kids, they’re going to look up to you and also consider you a friend. Being their Coach but also a FRIEND, someone they feel safe around, got me through everything.”
“The most rewarding part about Playworks is being able to teach with my Junior Coaches. Not only did they teach me a lot but seeing them grow into amazing, cool humans really taught me that I can make a change in the kids’ lives. It might be hard but stick through it. You got this! Don’t give up!”
“Congrats on becoming a Playworks Coach! Hope you love ramen, you’ll eat plenty of them. You will challenge yourself in ways you never have before. You will see your community in a whole new light. You’ll doubt yourself, but know you are awesome and you’ll get through the tough times, and you’ll have the best experience of your life.”
“Dear new Coach (rockstar!), First of all, thank you! You are embarking on a wild adventure of peace, love, and play. Don’t be afraid to be unapologetically you and show those kids what fun looks like (no matter what fun looks like to you). Remember not to sweat the little things and try to be in the moment whenever you are with the kids. They are going to test your limits in ways that you can’t even imagine. Just keep in mind that you have the power to bring play and positivity to every kid every day. P.s. Don’t forget your water bottle every day, you will need it.”