Change Takes Leaders

Last month, we joined the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce as they kicked off their John B. Gunter Community Leadership Initiative. The orientation ran much like any other orientation that you have been a part of in the past. An overview of the program’s history, a review of the schedule for the program, and an ice-breaker session to ease the nerves of the newest members of the class of 2018.

Vision coordinators Wally Burlack and Ryan Kieta addressed the crowd to inform the class about what Vision2025 is, how it came about, and what the organization aims to do for the Cambria area. You might be asking yourself…”Why must the new class learn about the meaning of Vision2025?” Simply because the Leadership Initiative is critical to the success of Vision2025.

Back in 2015, Vision coordinators approached Chamber Vice President, Debra Orner, with an idea to reshape the community project that were required to complete the program. The subject of the projects are determined by each group of 4-6. To ensure that these projects had the most relevant impact on our surrounding community, it was made a guideline that the project was to fall under one of the pillars of Vision2025.

In the two classes that have since graduated the program, two capture teams were formed and are still very active until this day. The first is the United Neighborhood program which aims to bring together civic groups to work on common issues in our area. The primary objective of the original project was to enable community groups and resource groups to network together in the hope that they would no longer need to expel as much energy finding necessary resources. By avoiding the reinvention of the wheel, these groups have become more efficient in their effort to help our area in a vast number of ways. One of the most successful endeavors of the capture team was the establishing of a community forum in which elected officials, planning commission members, and residents of the area joined the community groups to discuss various resources, contacts, and other social networks to assist them with the goals of each individual organization.

The second team that came out of this program is the Fresh Start Soap Pantry. It was determined by this team that while there was a lot of support from the government and other organizations to provide food and shelter to those in need, little was being done to ensure that their personal hygiene was being maintained. In the words of Tricia McBreen, one of the founders of the group, “People would have to decide between getting themselves dinner or buying shampoo.” To address this issue, the team began gathering supplies from local distribution centers, businesses, and community club contributions. After the supplies were collected, the team assessed the needs of the community based on input provided by local community organizations. Those in need would receive care kits that were hand crafted by the Fresh Start team.

It is thrilling to us at Vision2025 to know that there are people in our area who are taking strides to becoming better leaders and role models for others. This year at the Gunter Leadership Initiative we hope to see more outstanding capture teams form and begin making an impact here in Johnstown! We encourage all individuals who are looking to improve their leaderships skills and make a larger impact in the area to consider joining the John B. Gunter Leadership Initiative Class of 2019. Looking to make an impact today? Let us know what you are interested in improving in our area here!

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