Frankie is from Bethlehem, CT and went to Syracuse University. She became an AmeriCorps*VISTA because of a love of community service and a desire to help people however she can. After this year, Frankie plans to stay in Rhode Island to find full-time employment and a puppy. In her spare time, Frankie says, “I am a Pinterester. Many of my projects don’t turn out quite as pretty as the ones online-but I try.” Frankie is serving at First Star URI Academy.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 8… get ready!
Left step, right step, crunch down… oh no…., arm up, ehh, shoulder, left step… SMACK. Fall.
Jay Z’s “Clique” boomed over the speakers as I tried to follow along with the choreographer. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I looked ridiculous. I tried desperately to follow the person standing next to me, but it was gone. I admitted defeat, and I stood back to observe instead of participate.
20 kids were in a poorly lit, stinky gymnasium in the campus of URI Providence on a Saturday afternoon, dancing their little hearts out and enjoying the hell out of themselves. There were disparate levels of talent throughout the room, but every single kid was trying to master the complicated routine. None of them were giving up.
The theme for this month’s workshop for the First Star URI Academy students was “Health and Wellness”. Besides the healthy dose of cardio induced hip-hop dancing, we also ate healthy sandwiches, discussed healthy relationships and did group yoga. In terms of our monthly gatherings, this was probably the most successful one yet.
Our program seeks to find a few delicate balances. I am lucky to be involved with the Academy, a brand new and innovative college prep program for foster youth in Rhode Island, but we are still figuring out what works for us and trying to find our stride as an organization. Which can be extremely tough and extremely frustrating. Much like an impossible dance routine.
We are all trying to figure out what works best and trying to find that perfect formula of what we need to be. . I’ve done a lot of that legwork as a VISTA. I’ve helped create structure, figure out best practices, and then evaluate accordingly. But of all the paperwork I’ve done, and all of the positive impact reports that are starting to roll in, the most effective measure of our success is the connections that we make to these kids. I can see the impact when I visit them at their high schools, and they tell me about their college aspirations. I can see it when I observe students standing up for their futures. I can see it, especially, when I watch them smile as they try to master something completely new and different to them- like a dance routine to Jay Z’s “Clique”. It’s those moments when I know that we are finding our balance, and we are learning the way. We are figuring out where we need to be and where we need to get our kids. And as we fall in line, our kids fall in line with us.
Left step, right step, crunch down, arm up, shoulder, left step. I jumped back in, and I tried again. We will figure this out together: Our program will learn its routine and our kids will help to keep us strong and get us where we need to be.