This post was written by LDA Class of 2022-23 Team Golden Six members Angela Butters of Mercyhealth; Will Hentschel (YLDA), Milton High School; Linda Kleven, City of Janesville Senior Center; Kayla Neumueller, Blackhawk Technical College; Jarod Schut, First National Bank & Trust Company; and Patrick Singer, Rock County IT.
Our Communities and the Challenges They Face
Wow! To say that today was eye-opening would be an understatement. This month the LDA group had the privilege of learning more about the Beloit community, Rock County, and many of the community challenges that our area is facing. It felt like an emotional rollercoaster to learn about all of the amazing opportunities in our community and the growth that has been occurring and at the same time all of the immense challenges that our community members face in Rock County.
Touring the IronWorks Campus
We began the day by taking a walking tour of the IronWorks Campus. We were able to gain insight into the history of the campus and how it has been transformed from the Beloit Corporation to an innovative space by the Hendricks Corporation. Some of the spaces that we were able to tour were IronTek, where individuals can rent office space or work remotely, the YMCA, the Golf Lab, and Career Tek where we spent most of our day!
CareerTek is an amazing organization that serves students in the Greater Beloit Area with hands-on experiences and services to learn more about career pathways. The walking tour really gave us a glimpse at how Beloit is transforming properties into areas and spaces the community can be proud of.
Seeing Beloit via bus
After our walking tour, we went on a bus tour around Beloit. We learned about the many projects that many businesses including the Hendricks have invested in throughout Beloit. We started off by the Iron Works facility and learned all the different hoops and hurdles that had to be in place to redevelop the old paper mill.
After that, we learned about the surrounding companies in the area such as Beloit Box Boards Co., Fairbanks Morse, as well as Stainless Tank and Equipment. After hearing about companies in the heart of Beloit we were informed about the different community projects that are finished and upcoming projects. Some of these are the old Beloit mall being turned into the Beloit Public Library. Another great example is Beloit College’s ambitious goal to convert the old powerhouse into an education station to help students in their studies.
To close off our tour we went to the outskirts of Beloit to see some businesses in the business park. We saw North Star, Campbells Snack Food Division, Pratt Industries, and Amazon. Overall, the bus tour was very informative and well-presented giving a deeper insight into the business of Beloit.
Learning about different personality types
After a wonderful lunch from Tilly’s provided by CareerTek, Jamie went over aspects of Real Colors in relation to what recognition each personality color resonates the best.
Each group was given a worksheet and tasked with completing at least one of the colors with the questions – Define Recognition? How do COLOR like to be recognized?, and Why is recognition important to that color? This exercise continued our understanding of how to Real Colors to improve interpersonal work and produce results.
Panel discussion about community challenges
After Real Colors, we had the privilege to participate in a discussion with the 2022 Community Challenges Panel. The panel moderator was Jean Randles who posed many questions to the panelists. Our community has challenges like many other communities but unless we start the process of discussing them and examining what we can do as a community no changes will ever be made.
Our panel was Kelsey Hood Christensen from Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit; Jaime Counsell from Rock County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force; Marc Perry from Community Action Inc; Lindsay Stevens from NAMI Rock County; Brandon Jones from the Beloit Police Department; and Jennie Krajeck from Orfordville School District.
One of the main concerns is the housing issues, our challenge with housing is not having enough homes for the families that live in the community and the cost of the housing. In addition to the housing challenge is the homelessness. Homelessness has become an issue that has expanded into families. Unfortunately, we are seeing more kids in school that are not having their basic needs of housing met.
With the challenge of the homeless comes many other issues to deal with such as alcohol and drug abuse and mental illness. The other topics we touched on were human trafficking, mental health, need for more diverse providers and the importance of having inclusion in our community vs diversity.
We came away realizing, yes, there are many challenges but sometimes the biggest challenge is helping someone that does not want to be helped or think they want to be helped. We came away feeling these were some significant issues to try and deal with; but also, very inspired by all the panelists that we wanted to do something to make a difference in our community.
Past LDA projects on display
We ended our busy day with presentations from three of the past LDA groups. The Superheroes Unite Against Cancer, Through the Eyes of Rock County Veterans, and the Hedberg Public Library Bookmobile. Each group shared some valuable lessons that were learned on the way to the completion of their projects.
Here are a few things they shared with us:
- You want to make sure you are helping the organization and not making more work for them.
- Make sure you ask what they need or want.
- Finding your group’s passion and having a personal connection to your project can be very helpful.
- Projects don’t always go as planned and you need to be prepared to be flexible.
They all agreed that it was a great experience. We left the classroom and were able to visit the Bookmobile in the parking lot before we headed home.
Again, what an eye-opening and incredible day! We are so appreciative of those that were able to show us around today and provide us with just a small glimpse of the community and how we may be able to support them through our LDA efforts and beyond!