Our third and final graduation speaker of the Cohort 9 graduation ceremony was Leroy McKinney, a Customer Service professional. Leroy was asked to speak about the final piece of the LA Fellows journey, the training and how it moves the Fellows forward beyond the program. Here are his words:
Good Morning Everyone,
The Dictionary defines volunteerism as the practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational or other worthwhile activities, especially in one’s community.
One of the unique things about the LA Fellows Program is the partnership between career development and volunteerism.
Each Fellow is encouraged to meet with three nonprofit organizations. The purpose of this process is to find a match between the nonprofit organization and the Fellow. Once the match has been made, the nonprofit receives a qualified volunteer and the Fellow has an opportunity to use the skills learned in the LA Fellows Program at the nonprofit.
I gathered Fellows’ comments to describe their volunteer experience. Allow me to share them with you.
“The interview process made me feel more confident each time. “
“I am grateful for the opportunity to do good things. “
“It felt good to know that the nonprofit organization wanted me. “
“My volunteer experience is providing me with new skills that I probably would not have acquired.”
“I feel great volunteering for an organization that helps nonprofits and I'm learning a lot at the same time. “
“I volunteer because I get more than I give and done that since I was in the 6th grade when I first came to the U.S.”
“Volunteering is like riding a bike with training wheels because it gets you comfortable enough to ride off on your own and get back to work.”
The bike metaphor is a great description of the LA Fellows Program.
When I started the LA Fellows Program, I was a little wobbly riding my bike which I called Job Search. My tool kit for my bike was adequate.
As the program progressed, I learned that my bike was called Career Development.
As I pedaled my bike, I saw a billboard on the left that said “Emotional Intelligence.” On the right, I saw “Be the Bright Shiny Penny.” A voice went off in the back of my head saying “Don’t be the Debbie Downer.” I put these concepts in my tool kit.
Up ahead on the left was “The Blunt Instrument Won’t Open the Golden Door.” “What was that about? Oh yeah. When creating your resume focus on specific and concise entries. Vagueness takes you further away from your goal.” On the right was Informational Interviews.” I put those in my tool kit.
Next, I saw on the left a billboard that said “Networking” and another that said “Volunteer.” Then I saw “Got Business Cards?” These were placed in my tool kit as well.
As I began my descent into the S-Curve, I heard voices in my head that said “Take deep breaths. Embrace the change.” I hear these voices as I continued my ride.
About half-way down the S-curve, I noticed that I hadn’t fallen off my bike called Career Development. I thought to myself that I can do this.
Soon afterwards, I noticed there was unexpected road construction. There were jack hammers and people everywhere. “Can you believe this? This wasn’t on the map!” So I began navigating these obstacles on the fly.
Before reaching the bottom of the S-curve, I saw a billboard for “Maximizing Your Social Media Presence.” I added this to my tool kit and continued on.
When I reached the bottom, a sign said “This Part of the Journey Has Ended.” I moved my bike to the side.
That is where LA Fellows Cohort 9 is today. There will be obstacles in our path in the future. But we can take solace that we don’t have to face these obstacles alone. When we need support or another opinion to face these obstacles, we can reach out to the other Cohort 9 Fellows through our Facebook Group and phone/e-mail directories.
We will not be afraid because we have Choices. We can choose to go around the obstacles or jump the obstacles. We no longer have to crash into obstacles which knocks us off our course and kills our momentum. We can ride our bikes with confidence knowing that the LA Fellows Program has better prepared us for the future.
At this time, I would like to thank those people responsible for the program. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.
Lennie, Allison, Mary, Keri, Roberto, Dale, Doug, Lynnette, Larry, Jim, Kim, Andrea, Helen, Kristi, Marcie, our local Worksource Centers, nonprofit organizations, advisory board and special guests; let’s give them a round of applause.
Lastly, could I have the LA Fellows Cohort 9 stand? Cohort 9 is gathered here today as those bright, shiny pennies ready for the next challenge! Thank you and God bless!