An Afternoon With MAGIC ZONE

My fellow members of Urban Cohort 2 are super humans: juggling a full class schedule, adjusting to being back in the classroom, working full time or multiple part time jobs, volunteering for incredible causes all over the Bay Area and staying (or trying to stay) positive throughout! With a packed schedule myself; it is easy to get lost in my own day-to-day responsibilities.

On Saturday I took a step back and dipped my toes into Devi Zinzuvadia’s world. Devi works full time for MAGIC ZONE (a program of Collective Impact, a community partner to USF) on community outreach and engagement initiatives. MAGIC ZONE operates out of two sites — the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center and the Hayes Valley Playground & Clubhouse — in service of Western Addition youth and families. Devi is headquartered at the Hayes Valley Playground, a beautiful and well-kept recreation center for the neighborhood. MAGIC ZONE offers year-round programming for Western Addition youth, and primarily supports under-served African American families with strong generational ties to the neighborhood. Working with various City stakeholders, MAGIC ZONE is working to close the academic achievement gap via intensive out-of-school-time programming.

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This weekend, members of the MAGIC ZONE team, neighbors and volunteers came together at the invitation of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association to give some much-needed TLC to the gardens at the Playground. We weeded, harvested potatoes and other vegetables, applied compost and then mulched the garden beds. While enjoying the sunshine and getting our hands dirty, I got to know some of the invaluable neighborhood volunteers that make the Hayes Valley Playground and MAGIC ZONE work.

Like I said before, it is easy to be absorbed in your own personal narrative; things you have to do, places you have to go, books you have to read, etc. These past few months have been such a whirlwind for me, as I’m sure it has been for all of my fellow classmates. Moving from New York City to San Francisco has been a full time adjustment in and of itself! I have to remind myself to take a step back from time to time, and immerse myself in someone else’s shoes for a few hours. Working with others towards a common goal, even if it’s as small as weeding and mulching, can be a very humbling experience. Taking your mind off of yourself is also liberating. In the three hours I spent with Devi and her MAGIC ZONE colleagues, I did not think about pending papers, presentations or projects. I enjoyed the moment, the sunshine and the camaraderie of newfound friends.

MAGIC ZONE, through collaboration between staff, students, neighbors and volunteers, does some amazing work in the city. On Saturday I was a part of the single largest group of volunteers, participating on behalf of MAGIC ZONE in the Hayes Valley garden clean up day. Everyone came together and was able to truly transform the space.

Amanda Smith
Master of Arts in Urban Affairs ’16

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