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Duffy: Making a community impact

Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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At the end of the day, most of us want to feel like we did something to make an impact on our family, our community or the world as a whole. Some people choose to accomplish this by being part of an existing organization or project and others take it upon themselves to start something new. Neither option is better or worse than the other and both can really benefit others.

The DeKalb community is outstanding at providing for those that have unfulfilled needs. The local nonprofit community provides tremendous support and terrific services throughout DeKalb County. Figure out your passions or areas of interest and find an existing organization to work with to make a difference. The amount and level of involvement can vary from organization to organization, however, most have a number of ways to support their mission. If you aren’t sure where to start, contact the Kishwaukee United Way and they can help provide direction.

The DeKalb Chamber offers a Leadership Academy each year that provides a variety of benefits including developing leadership skills, learning valuable information about the community and the chance to work with others in the community to make a difference. The last component is one that has held a lasting impact on the area over the nine years of the program.

The 2012-2013 Leadership Academy Class has stepped up to the challenge as the past classes have and their results are already being felt in the community. On April 27, as a part of the Kishwaukee Family YMCA Healthy Kids Day, a group from the class held a Bike Rodeo. The focus of this project was to show kids that safety is extremely important when riding their bikes. The rodeo consisted of a chance to register their bike with the local police departments, an overview of the rules and proper signals when biking, checking your bike and helmet for proper fitting, a course to practice their skills and more. The event was one that definitely fit a need in the community and one that will continue in the future because of the partnership with the YMCA.

Another group from the class put on the Beatin’ ’Betes 5K run Saturday to benefit juvenile diabetes. The focus of the event was to provide awareness for diabetes, raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and a fun 5K run for family and friends.

A third group from the class is working on enhancing the solicitation of volunteers to deliver Meals on Wheels with new components to their marketing plan. This program is one that benefits the community in a variety of ways and increasing the number of volunteers and exposure of the program will allow it to continue and grow to fit the changing needs of the community.

This class has definitely made their impact and the community is better for their contributions. If you are interested in being a part of the 2013-2014 Leadership Academy, be sure to check out our website at www.dekalb.org for more information on the program.

• Matt Duffy is executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commmerce.

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