Periodically, the young men and women of America are offered the opportunity to offer themselves in service to their country through innovative, exciting programs which make a difference. During Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps was such a national service program; John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier saw another with the launching of the Peace Corps, still regarded by many as “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” Now comes City Year, a Boston-based service program whose story has won national, even international attention and whose efforts are already being replicated.
A CITY YEAR is a firsthand account of what it is like to be a member of a City Year team, twelve young men and women of diverse backgrounds and dreams who come together to pool their talents, mental and physical, in a series of projects that range from renovating shelters for homeless, tutoring school children and maintaining an inner-city community garden. Along the way Goldsmith and her fellow City Year participants learn much about the state of America today, and much more about themselves.
Entirely funded through private contributions, the City Year program offers an intriguing alternative to the traditional, government-sponsored youth employment programs of the past. It frankly appeals to the best in America’s young people, even to those whom society has all but written off, such as the ex-con on Suzanne Goldsmith’s team. While some observers might scoff at its idealism, readers of A CITY YEAR will come to appreciate the hard-headed practicality and sheer hard work which the program requires of its participants.