Authored by Jenna Moritz, Development Associate City Year Detroit
Blessed Unrest, “… a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action…keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” (Martha Grahmn, The Life and Work of Martha Graham)
I’m a Detroiter. For over a decade, I worked in the corporate sector, guiding and producing environmental studies for real estate developments throughout our region. Over time, I found myself sitting at my desk, reviewing database reports, wondering if the best thing I could do with my “work-day” time was to earn a simple paycheck and plod along, ignoring the real work of urban renewal; work growing from creating the change we knew Detroit needed- work that elevated the spirit of my neighbors through projects and service. I didn’t know it then, but I was filled with a sense of Blessed Unrest.
The weekend of MLK Day exemplified how City Year works to quell that unrest. On Saturday, January 15, we celebrated the Heroes Opening Day. Watching our City Heroes and Young Heroes (middle and high school students who volunteer to do service together) pledge to serve their community for every Saturday for five months, I understood the promise of Blessed Unrest. The eager excitement in their young faces filled me with inspiration and excitement. Our keynote speaker Dr. Don Cooney reminded our Heroes that on the day of Dr. King’s birth, we should dedicate our time in service to his ideals- that everyone is entitled to live a life full of dignity. Dr. Cooney encouraged all of us to embrace the Blessed Unrest in our hearts as we serve others.
MLK Day opened with our traditional rally at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. There, the keynote speaker, Congressman Hansen Clarke frankly addressed the audience and spoke of his time in service and how it “saved his life.”
In Congressman Clarke’s impassioned address, I witnessed what a life dedicated to fulfilling the work of Blessed Unrest can accomplish.
Following the rally, I joined the Heroes at Bow Elementary School. Working in the midst of a flurry of activity to organize, clean and create an atmosphere where learning can occur showed me the results when the feeling of Blessed Unrest are put into action. Classrooms were cleaned and organized, wall murals were completed and locker quotes painted to inspire the students to strive towards closing the achievement gap and becoming the workforce Congressman spoke of.
Everyday, the corps members and staff at City Year fulfill the promise of Blessed Unrest with a vitality and yearning for action to keep kids in school and on track. I am deeply grateful to join them.
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