What is leadership? For nine Step Up to Leadership graduates, leadership is a way for them to get involved and help transform the community into something better.
On Wednesday afternoon, following a dinner catered by Settlers Inn, each graduate spoke in front of a crowd at the Second annual graduation, which occurred at the Boonville High School Commons. The graduates were asked to speak about their passion. After going through a 12 week course in leadership, what seemed so distant at the beginning now is within reach.
"Usually when I speak at these graduations, often I give words of encouragement about taking what you have learned and going out into your community and doing something with it. You guys have already done that. I am so impressed with what you have done and I am anxious to see where it goes from here," Central Missouri Community Action Community Services Director Angela Hirsch said.
Graduate Lisa Keel talked about her passion for starting a clothes closet for individuals who cannot afford to buy clothes. Graduate Roger Harris spoke about his love for gardening and helping individuals learn how to grow plants and vegetables. Harris began the People's Food Guild, a project the graduates have been assisting with since the class began.
Graduate Jeff Gowin spoke about his past and the help he received from friends and from Central Missouri Community Action. Graduate Corey Best spoke of tackling large issues facing this world including borders and government.
"I asked myself what can I do to help this community? Whether it is helping jump start a scooter or buying a homeless man his favorite meal, I would like to help in uncommon ways," Best said.
The guest speaker for the evening was Len Shafer, a 2012 Step Up to Leadership graduate. Shafer expressed to the class the need to understand the way the country is run. He also encouraged the graduates to learn from history.
Shafer is currently serving as Vice President of the Community Action Team. He described some of the activities the group was involved in, including a bag drive to benefit the food pantry.
"We recently celebrated our countries 237th birthday. It signifies a thing dear to my heart, the constitution and the Bill of Rights," Shafer said.
During his speech, Shafer called all the graduates up to read the United States Bill of Rights.
"Dr. Seuss says to us, you have a brain in your head, you have feet in your shoes. Your passions can take you wherever you choose. A leader is not someone in a position, a leader is not someone who simply has a title. A leader is someone who brings to the community a passion, a theory that other people want to follow and believe in," Hirsch said.