There are many reasons for individuals to give back. So many people feel they want to return something for the benefits they receive from their community. Leadership is expressed through the influence you have on others.
Laurie Guest recently spoke to the graduates of the DeKalb Chamber Leadership Academy, Class of 2012. She provided five guidelines for the graduates to keep in mind. These guidelines can give us all benchmarks to live by.
• The first is our expertise. We should focus on the contribution we each possess and can bring to the table.
• Have a “How can we …?” attitude, where we seek solutions and opportunities in all we do when facing challenges.
• We must be truthful in our actions, and do what we say we are going to do.
• Make connections: Find the linkages among different people in our circle of acquaintances and make appropriate introductions.
• Have self-awareness: Be authentic and sincere in who we are and firm in what we have to offer.
I believe a real benefit of the chamber’s Leadership Academy experience is team building. The graduates become friends with those on their teams.
This can be so helpful in the workplace and community. As graduates return to their activities, whether with family, co-workers or neighbors, working with and through others is so important. Building strong bonds with colleagues provides the fabric of a strong community.
There is a lot of which to be proud about in our community. One highlight is the quality of people we live with and work beside.
Many volunteer organizations are available, and there are numerous opportunities for people to engage with others. Many of these are fun and provide a tremendous resource to nonprofit organizations throughout the area.
This is the eighth class of graduates from the Leadership Academy. The graduates join others who precede them in giving back to the community in different ways.
Three projects have been initiated by the class members of this year’s academy.
• Tools 4 Schools – Partnering with community organizations to assist providing financial and volunteer resources for the distribution of free supplies to children qualifying for free and reduced lunch programs in the DeKalb schools. This project links to the larger backpack program in the area from The Salvation Army. The goal is to create a network of volunteers to assist with assembly and distribution of supplies.
• Drop-in Center – A feasibility study was done about an idea to provide children ages 8 to 12 a creative outlet to occupy their free time. A survey of students’ opinions was done and will be provided to nonprofits to identify options that will help them focus on positive behaviors within the community.
• Teen Connect – Provide a hands-on learning job shadowing experience by giving local high school students the opportunity to spend time in the workplace with professionals in a field of interest. This provides a glimpse into a specific career and gives insight to the skills and training needed to succeed in the field.
I commend the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce for providing the opportunity for local businesses and their employees to give something back that benefits those living in the city. Also noteworthy are the businesses that provide space for the academy to meet throughout the nine-month period. Those businesses who sponsor participants in the annual Leadership Academy are to be commended.
There is much talent in the people living and working in DeKalb and the surrounding areas. It is great to see how these individuals come together and form bonds of friendship and contribute to good projects.
• John Rey lives in DeKalb and is retired from DeKalb Ag/Monsanto. He also has been employed with AXA Financial and Family Service Agency. He continues as an active community volunteer in several organizations. You may contact him at email@example.com.