gmhTODAY Spring 2022 - Page 43

Leadership Gilroy : Class of 2021 Relflects

The Gift that Keeps on Giving Back

by Leadership Gilroy Class of 2021 members : Tom Larkin , Kristina Robeson , Amy Tran , and Victoria Valencia

Leadership Gilroy is a non-profit organization focused on inspiring and developing leaders in our local community . All participants in this program develop vital leadership , negotiation and team-building skills , as well as gain a deeper understanding of the local community while forging long-lasting friendships and connections .

Since the first Leadership Gilroy class in 1998 , over 250 graduates have completed the intensive 10-month Community Leadership Program and have exited the program stronger , more skilled , and more connected to their community .
For Leadership Gilroy Class of 2021 , these skills and community connections were achieved by meeting with leaders such as Mayor Marie Blankley , city administrator Jimmy Forbis , and Chico State head basketball coach Greg Clink . We enjoyed day trips to speak with Gilroy business professionals from LJB Farms , One Giving Tree , Headstart Nursery , Besson Family Vineyards , and Rebekah ’ s Children ’ s Services , just to name a few .
Each class is required to create a community service project that is designed to make an impact on the community and provide a learning platform for the class to apply leadership skills they have been learning . Some past projects include Bonanza Days , Gilroy cLove Days , and the Gilroy Demonstration Garden . The Class of 2021 found several businesses and organizations that needed support in one way or another . After a little debating , discussion , arguing , head banging , and hair pulling , we came to a consensus on Back the Care Pack , an initiative to support students in Gilroy .
It was important for us to provide support and resources to the youth in the community who faced social , emotional , and educational disruptions as a result of the pandemic . We narrowed our focus to eighth graders in our community . Young children and seniors often get the most attention , with the age groups in the middle easily overlooked . We felt that eighth graders in Gilroy needed some love , especially after nearly two years of online learning .
We worked closely with various middle school counselors , interviewed students , and researched mental health resources available for middle school students . We were able to raise over $ 10,000 through generous community sponsorships and a softball tournament fundraiser . Then we distributed close to 1,000 care packs ; one to every single eighth grader enrolled
Without groups of people willing to take action , some of our most vulnerable members of our community could get left behind .
in Gilroy schools . These packs contained rubiks cubes , stress balls , pop-its , journals with writing prompts , and mental health resources .
Our class of 18 started out as complete strangers from diverse , disparate backgrounds and experiences , but were able to bring our community together to help these students and their families feel seen . It was inspiring to achieve a common goal that benefited our community as well as learn about the necessity of nonprofits . Without groups of people willing to take action , some of our most vulnerable members of our community could get left behind .
Leadership Gilroy grows servant-leaders who often go on to join non-profit organizations , continuing to fill gaps long after their turn in the ten month program ends .
To learn more about Leadership Gilroy and how you can get involved , please visit leadershipgilroy . org .
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