The rigorous program started with an orientation in August and our first of 10, 5-hour long classes in September. Classes included dinner…even dinner at the Mitchellville Correctional Institute for Women!
Each year, class members are charged with completing one very large community improvement project as a class and at least one small group community service project. Our small group was so ambitious that we did two!
For our community improvement project, we had to make some very difficult choices since all of the non-profits that applied were worthy. We ended up choosing to partner with Amanda the Panda to create the first, solely dedicated grief center in our community. This year’s class renovated the space located at 1821 Grand Avenue in West Des Moines, to accommodate needed program expansion. This former hospice doubled Amanda the Panda’s current space to allow program expansion, eliminate rented off-site storage and provide a fenced outdoor space for activities.
At our first class, we were asked to write a note to ourselves including what we hoped to get out of our participation in the program. My note read:
- How to work better with others – this honed constantly as I was on the steering community for our class project
- Meet new and interesting people – met individuals that I KNOW will be friends for life
- Make networking connections – got the opportunity to network with individuals that I never would have met otherwise
- Learn more about the Des Moines community – The Polk County Housing Trust Fund does a bus tour three times a year throughout Des Moines. Sign up for it and go. It will blow your mind. It blew mine…
- Discover new things about myself
- Learn to be more open-minded
A huge time investment, is an understatement. Be prepared to grow as a person, as a professional and as a member of your community if you choose to participate.