Editor’s note: As a Leadership Development Academy alum (Class of 2013-14), Linda Ross is passionate about the mission of the organization and enjoys working as Executive Director/Program Facilitator. Wisdom acquired at LDA empowers her to continue her success in business. She is excited to work with others to obtain their leadership goals.
Congratulations LDA Class of 2017
Congratulations to the Leadership Development Academy Class of 2017! Five team projects, 28 graduating LDA participants and ten really great sessions; resulting in changed lives and a better community. I couldn’t be more proud of the participants and the effort they put forth this year.
Project Presentations and Graduation
We decided to combine project presentations and graduation into a one day event. I believe it was the perfect culmination of a great year. Taking place at the Venue in Janesville, and it suited our day perfectly. If you have not been in the Venue, you really need to stop by. It is historic and beautiful. Megan O’Leary Photography captured our day on her camera. She does an outstanding job.
5 Project Teams
This year the LDA had 5 project teams. They all had amazing projects to present to those who were listening. The projects were: “Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!” for Project 16:49. Feeding Our Future for the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville. First Light for first responders. Diaper Bank for Caritas. Planting the Seeds of Change for the GIFTS’ Homeless Shelter for Men. Each project makes a difference for residents of our communities.
Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!
“Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!” for Project 16:49 is from the Team Rockin’ Top Shelfers. They are partnering with Project 16:49 to create an Advocacy Committee. This committee focuses on any needs or struggles of the organization. It will establish a financial basis for unaccompanied youth, initiate and establish a network of credible landlords and support changes to state statutes. The Top Shelfers participated in the Lip Sync Battle for Project 16:49 and raised more than $3,500 for the program.
Feeding Our Future
Feeding Our Future provides daily snacks to Boys & Girls Club of Janesville members during the school year. It results in an estimated 12,000 free, nutritious snacks per year to youth in the Janesville area. Feeding Our Future helps supply children with the nutrients they may not be receiving at home due to income or lack of information on healthy eating. It strives to have a lasting impact by introducing members to new, healthy foods. Hopefully they will continue to incorporate them into their diets into adulthood. Snacks meet the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction food standards.
First Light is a project modeled on the idea of providing emergency shelter in the midst of a crisis. Dire situations, such as no heat on the coldest night of the year, are made all the more challenging due to the fact that help isn’t available 24 hours per day or on weekends from other resources.
In such situations, people often turn to first responders for aid. Many of these agencies are ill-equipped to help in these situations. It is not uncommon for first responders to take money out of their own pockets to meet these needs, especially when it comes to finding food and shelter. Such generosity is beyond the call of duty, and is unsustainable.
First Light aims to fill this resource gap. It will equip first responders throughout Rock County with a series of shelter vouchers to help with short-term shelter needs in a very real way. Working with hotels in Rock County, the project aims to combine both temporary relief and long-term education. Along with vouchers, a guide will be given out to help link them up with various resources to help meet their long-term needs.
Another team is assisting Caritas in the creation of a diaper bank to serve all of Rock County. Caritas, a Rock County community resource center, is currently in the process of a building expansion. It is also transitioning from a clothing bank to a diaper bank. One in three families struggle with a lack of adequate diaper supply at some point. These families are often times struggling with additional basic needs such as food and financial security.
This lack of resources can result in economic, mental and physical stress. A lack of clean and adequate diapers can result in sickness for the child and denial of child care. As a result, parents have to miss work. When unable to meet basic needs, parents are less likely to be as involved in the child’s development. Collecting more than 10,000 diapers, students at the Janesville School District helped to “Stuff a Bus” with diapers.
Planting the Seeds of Change
The fifth team is Planting the Seeds of Change for the Gifts’ Homeless Shelter for Men. Their project is to provide landscaping and gardens at the new Gifts’ Homeless Shelter for Men in Janesville. The team is working with K & W Greenery to realize the organization’s vision for the exterior grounds of its new facility. In addition to decorative landscaping around the front and sides of the building, they are installing a useful and beautiful outdoor area. In this area, Gifts’ guests can garden, socialize, and engage in healthy recreational activities. This project will be completed this summer. If you are looking to volunteer, there is much work to be done.
A Time of Celebration
Graduation was a time of celebration! We heard from speakers who were alum, sponsors and class participants. Graduation certificates and photos were given out to each one who completed the LDA class. We had 104 people in attendance!
LDA Board Chair, Katrina Bird, welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming.
Project Presentation and Graduation Sponsor
First Community Credit Union was our Project Presentation and Graduation Day sponsor. Jack Gill offered congratulations to the class.
Class of 2017 Speakers
Representing the Class of 2017 was Joel Chappelle and Kelly Willoughby. Both were grateful for the eye-opening sessions that helped create awareness of Rock County and of themselves.
The Platinum Sponsor for LDA is ANGI Energy Systems. Jason Lund shared how the LDA is making a difference in their organization through their 5 graduates.
Brian Anderson, LDA Class of 2008 from Johnson Bank, shared about leadership. He also shared how LDA has made a difference in his life and in the lives of others in our community.
The Moment They Have Been Waiting For
Katrina and I had the privilege of giving the graduation certificates to the class. As each one was approaching, memories of this past year flooded my mind, as well as my heart.
A Cob of Corn
As a wrap up, I used a cob of corn to remind each participant to take the seeds/tools that they have and to continue to plant others from their growth. Each one in the LDA class was given many tools. With them, they will give back and serve our community.
Do Great Things
I believe they will all do great things. I believe they will keep the momentum going and they will be the best they can be.
Fantastic Board of Directors
Some of the LDA Board of Directors were able to join us for the events. This board is fantastic to work with!
Congratulations Class of 2017!
Congratulations to the Leadership Development Academy Class of 2017! Have some fun. You earned it!