This post was written by LDA Class of 2019-20 Team Untapped Leaders member Trina Jackson of Beloit Regional Hospice. Other team members include: Mike Calloway, Angi Energy Systems; Adam Dolgner, Pieper Electric; Melissa Lantta, Blackhawk Technical College; Stacey Renn, Wells Fargo Advisors; and Mark Ratzlaff, City of Janesville.
Coming together to form a team
We began our LDA journey as a group of strangers who were all coming together from different backgrounds and from a variety of work-related experiences, all with the intent of expanding our leadership potentials.
Within the first three sessions of LDA, we believe that our leadership potentials have been increased, but more importantly our connection to the community has already grown tremendously. Beyond learning about our individual Real Colors, we were forced to challenge our fears and to expand our levels of comfort during the OWLS course.
After the first two sessions, it’s safe to say that we are no longer strangers. In such a short amount of time, we’ve built authentic relationships within our group, and have already begun reaching out to our community to identify its needs.
Identifying a collaborative project
Our entire team was able to quickly identify that we all shared a passion for the youth within our community. We’ve taken on the group name “Untapped Leaders” and we took some time to meet as a group at the Bodacious Brew. During our time at Bodacious Brew, we collaborated and began to brainstorm our ideas for our group project.
We all felt that raising awareness for our community organizations is essential within our community, and considered the following items to focus on for our project:
- Child Protective Services (CPS)
- Handle with Care
- Human Trafficking
- Drug Endangered Children (DEC)
- The Boys and Girls Club.
CPS overlaps with all the organizations we brainstormed, so we felt meeting with them would help our team gain some more perspective.
Taking the first steps
We successfully scheduled a meeting to meet with Christine Darr CSW from Rock County Foster Care Program. She shared what some of the needs were within Rock County. She also helped our team shed some light on the real issues. One BIG need from Christine’s perspective is the recruitment of more foster families. Rock County is considered Rural but unfortunately seems to have high numbers of youth in the foster program.
Sadly, Rock County currently has 51 general licensed foster homes, 40 relatives of child-specific homes, 38 children in court-ordered Kinship Care and 43 children with unlicensed relatives. Moreover, staff turnover rates from June 1, 2018- May 31, 2019, are at an alarming 31%, ongoing statistics reveal approximately 50%. Many staff feel that the lack of resources can be very draining personally.
As sobering as this meeting was it also helped our team gain valuable insight. As a group, we humbly realized that there is a significant need for the leaders, businesses, and individuals within our community to be aware and to give a hand up whenever possible. Stay tuned for team Untapped Leaders, coming to a city near you!