Gedion Yitref

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Gedion doing puzzles with children at our FAME CWB site in Columbia City in 2009.

“It was freshman year in college and I was trying to find my niche. In an act of desperation, I put my email address on over eight different listserves. As a result, my inbox was flooded with emails I was unwilling to open. But no matter how many times I tried deleting the Jumpstart recruitment messages, days later a fresh new message appeared, urging me to take part in a movement larger than myself. And I thought, “Maybe Jumpstart is my niche at the University of Washington.” After my moment of eureka, I attended an informational session and immediately fell for Jumpstart’s mission.

My infatuation with Jumpstart after my first year of service could not be gauged—the 300 hour service requirement in no way felt like an extra chore but rather an everyday necessity ingrained in me. The relationships built with the other corps members, the site staff, and especially the UW Jumpstart staff helped me seamlessly weave my corps experience with my academics. My obsession with Jumpstart and the highly coveted red shirts seeped into my lecture periods—once I wore the red shirt, my mind raced through the lyrics of the song I was responsible for leading during circle time while simultaneously thinking about the strength of a chemical bond – of course.

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Gedion helping to set up at a Festival for Literacy event at Seattle University.

The fondest memory I had with Jumpstart was a prank, which speaks to the relationships built during my experience. During my second year, I was a team leader at the Columbia City site which had close ties to the Capitol Hill location I previously worked at as a corps member. One day both sites served broccoli for lunch. It had been a couple of months since I had spoken with a staff member from the Capitol Hill location, so I decided to give them a call. One day earlier the Capitol Hill site had a food audit I wasn’t aware of. When I called the center, I took on the role of a health inspector and said the broccoli served for lunch was contaminated. The staff member paused for three to four seconds until I broke my cover. I got my fair share of “What were you thinking?” by the staff members at the site, but we eventually laughed off the whole ordeal.

Jokes aside, my involvement with Jumpstart has truly shaped my altruism. Before joining Jumpstart, I looked at service from the selfish perspective of how it would boost my resume. After Jumpstart, service wasn’t about the resume but more about how I could harness my inner compassion for others. Instead of entering graduate school immediately following graduation, I elected to join Teach For America serving as a high school science teacher in Chicago – all because of Jumpstart.”

 

~Gedion Yitref
Corps Member 2008, Team Leader 2009

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