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Learning moments

What is a learning moment? It is a time have a new experience that leads to growth. Care Force is a year full of learning moments; one of my most memorable learning moments was during my first trip. I was in Orlando, Florida and it was the day after our event. We had some leftover paint that could not be left at the hotel so my Event Manager, Hugh Harlow, told me to call some local hardware stores to ask if they could dispose of it for us. I picked up my phone and dialed the first paint store I found. The call went something like this:

Ben: “Hey, this is Ben. Can you take my paint.”

Paint Store Clerk: “No.”

Then they promptly ended the call.

Hugh, who had been listening to the call, was quick to correct me. He explained that before I ask them to dispose of our paint, I have to tell them I’m with City Year and explain what City Year is. We practiced what I would say and, feeling confident, I put out another call, though it was to a paint warehouse instead of an actual store. Since it was a warehouse, there was no customer service and they wouldn’t accept the paint. The third time as they say was the charm and I was successful. I tell this story for two reasons. The first reason is that I think it is hilarious, and everyone I share it with agrees. The second reason is because I think it’s relatable and shows people that the Care Force service year as a whole is a learning experience. Whether I’m in the office or out on an event, I try to learn something new every day.

Care Force challenges us to take on different roles for events. During prep, we also have the opportunity to learn and develop different hard skills. Below are some learning moments that Team Care Force #13 will be taking with them from their year of service.


“My first learning moment was at the Synopsys event in San Jose at the Ryan STEAM Academy. I was tasked with being the “Cut Captain” for the event, which was a new assignment for me. I had to teach other CE and AmeriCorps Members how to measure the wood and then cut it. Being cut captain was causing me a lot of stress because projects kept shifting and we were often still waiting for lumber to be delivered. I learned that things always work themselves out and to just manage what is in my control. Looking back at that event I wish I could do it over again with the knowledge I have now to make it less stressful for not only myself but my team as well.”-Molly Rogers


“During an event in Lowell, our team learned that, when using tape to outline letters of a bathroom stall door mural, the way to do it is to tape the entire area of the mural first, trace the letters onto the tape, then cut out the areas being painted. This works much better than projecting and tracing the letters onto the door first, then trying to tape the edges of each individual letter.” – Masaki Carty


“My learning moment centers around working with ambiguity. During the Santa Train packing party, I was assigned a project where we had a mountain of various donations including books, clothing items, toys, and games, that all needed to be divided up into bins. These bins would be handed out to kids and families at the various stops along the Santa Train route. There wasn’t a complete inventory of items so it couldn’t all get split up evenly, so I had to figure out a way to organize it so volunteers would get a good mix of items into each bin. This was a challenge because I couldn’t go through all the items. There was a lot of variety, so I had to estimate and see where it took us on event day. I had amazing volunteers that helped tackle the mountain of donations and divide it all up into hundreds of bins that all made it onto the train and eventually got handed out to the families along the Santa Train route!” – Delaney Pummill


“My first learning moment was in Camden, NJ on my first event outside of Boston. Sam Sadlier was our event manager and I was tasked with leading led fourteen volunteers in painting two murals. I was Paint Captain for the first time, and it was a stressful with everyone coming for paint at the same time. Once I got the hang of it, I only got better, improving by the minute! By the end of the day I learned how to assemble a paint station, distribute paint, and clean up a paint station.”- Johanny Tejada


“During prep for my very first event, I learned the importance of gloves, especially when working with landscaping tools. This was for the WilmerHale event at the Cooper Community Center in Boston. One of our projects was to lay down a paver stone walkway that would connect the front sidewalk with the playground. That meant that my team and I needed to dig up the grass and dirt so the volunteers could lay down the landscaping fabric, paving sand, and then, finally, the paver stones. As we were clearing the area, we noticed that there was a large rock that jutted out into the pathway, so we grabbed a pick and started hacking away. Only, instead of going to get my gloves, I thought I would just do it bare-handed, and I ended up with two blisters. I learned really quick that gloves are there for a reason, and it’s better to have them on.” -Brittany Blackerby


This is just a small sample of the learning moments from our completed year of service. I have learned so many skills while serving as a member of Team Care Force, like how to use a drill and saws, along with a variety of other hard and soft skills. Care Force has taught my teammates a great deal and I can’t wait to put these skills to use in my future endeavors.

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