By: Rachel Smith
I first heard about him not long after I came to Denver. One of the senior corps members was telling me about their experiences at Summer Academy, and how this man had remembered her name after meeting her only once a year before that. I have heard the same exact story from many people here at City Year, but his legacy goes way beyond an incredible memory.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Charlie Rose when the West Denver network was invited to open for the second day of the International Leadership Association’s conference in the Hyatt downtown. He serves as the Senior Vice President and Dean of City Year and has been with the organization for almost thirty years. As we learned in his Life’s work, which he presented to us at the office, he has dedicated his life to service, and especially to bettering the lives of young people. His life actually reminds me of the classic American dream story: a young man in New York city is looking to turn his life around and finds himself through service to others, grows up to be incredibly successful, founding City Year as well as several other not for profit organizations, and owns his own restaurant to top it all off. Plus, did I mention his charisma?
Without getting into the details of the leadership conference, I want to emphasize how much Charlie’s presence affected the corps. Personally, his time with us validated my reasons for joining City Year, and reminded me why I get in my car at 6:30 every morning and drive to school.I believe that Charlie is the manifestation of City Year’s value Ubuntu -I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours. The moment I came in contact with Charlie, it was clear that he was deeply interested and concerned with my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The corps participated in a conversation style forum with Charlie where we were allowed to bring up anything on our minds. At one point, a corps member brought up feelings of being overwhelmed by her work, and thanks to Charlie’s example and empathy about a third of everyone in the room joined her in solidarity of her feelings. The work we do is hard. But I also know, and Charlie reminded me of the importance of the human aspect of my service.