Dylan Moore ’16
Advocate for Community Engagement
Over the past year, as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) I’ve worked closely with the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in the Tenderloin neighborhood. As a part of this experience, I worked with a wonderful team of people to plan and implement the Fools annual community celebration, known as Oscard’s Feast. Though it operates as a fundraiser, the primary goal of the event is to come together as Fools and celebrate the community found in the Tenderloin (TL). About a week after the event, I was facilitating a reflection with service-learners from a Communication Studies course as well as with Carmen Barsody, one of the founders of the organization. As we reminisced on the success of the event, Abram Castaneda, one of the service-learners said something that made us all pause, smile and make the classic “mmm” sound that happens when someone in a reflection says something particularly profound. He spoke about the beauty of an event that invites people to “come in your complete imperfections”. If there was ever a summative moment of my experiences as an ACE, that was it. In just one short sentence this service-learner had captured what it means to work as an ACE, with the Leo T. McCarthy Center (LTMC), and with the Faithful Fools.
I began my undergraduate life in service as a Martín-Baró Scholar, working with the Raphael House in the Tenderloin. Through this partnership I served as a homework tutor for young students who were currently or had previously experienced homelessness. I was also fortunate enough to spend a year at the YMCA in Bayview Hunters Point. As a part of my work there I was a classroom assistant, helping students with their algebra homework (although frankly, more often than not, they were the ones teaching me about algebra).
Finally, here I am at the Faithful Fools. My service with the Fools has had me wearing multiple hats. There are times when I’ve helped register voters in the TL and times when my service involves simply being in community. Though my time as an ACE is ending, my journey with the McCarthy Center isn’t over yet. In just one short week I’ll be heading off to Sacramento as a McCarthy Fellow and continuing my journey of exploration.
As graduation grows closer, I’m left thinking about all of the things I have learned as an ACE. While I’m better at writing professional emails and planning reflections, any job of value will help me develop those skills. What makes being an ACE an exceptional and transformative job, is how it has shaped me as an agent of change. Over the past two years I have built incredible relationships, made amazing memories, and learned more about myself and the world than I ever thought I would. As a part of this learning process, I have unpacked and analyzed the structural and systemic issues that affect our community. I have explored my privilege and my marginalization. I have seen the ways nonprofits can fight against marginalization. More than anything though, I’ve learned how to celebrate communities in all of their vulnerabilities and strengths. Being an ACE has taught me that I don’t need to build up walls against my vulnerabilities, I need to bask in them. To share our flaws and imperfections and find common ground within them. Being an ACE has taught me how to grow, celebrate, and heal through vulnerability.
So here I am, in all of my imperfections, ready to take on the world as a McCarthy Fellow in Sacramento and continue celebrating the community that is the McCarthy Center.
(Dylan Moore is the 2016 valedictorian for the School of Arts and Sciences and award winner of the Priscilla A. Scotlan Award and the Leo T. McCarthy Public Service Award)