The  New  Year  and  a New  Committee

With the start of the new year, activities for the Residents Association (RA) have revved back up with meetings – albeit via Zoom.  In addition to the monthly committee meetings, several Work Groups for the Strategic Plan are also meeting to continue to seek ways to implement the many tasks for this first year in the plan.  Sometimes the tasks in the Strategic Plan overlap with the work of the committees, and sometimes not.

An example of the latter is that, after a recent Zoom call of the Community Engagement work group, discussion led to the idea of forming a new RA committee on Volunteer Engagement:  “Why don’t we establish a new committee to help residents make the connections between the opportunities for mentoring or volunteering in the Rockbridge community as well as here on the campus?”  Many residents would like to get involved but aren’t quite sure how or where.  This committee would help provide the links.

With this in mind, the Residents Council discussed the matter at our January meeting and enthusiastically supported establishing a new committee on volunteering.  We’re in the process of talking with some residents who are already volunteering, and others who have expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the Rockbridge community.  Even though we are hindered by the coronavirus, there are still some ways to volunteer via Zoom, and, before too long, in person.  We’ll keep you posted as this new committee gets under way.

Even as the Volunteer Engagement Committee gets under way, we can share a pair of opportunities.  The article below, written by Carol Wheeler, chair of the Community Engagement work group, describes two newly-forming community initiatives which some residents might wish to learn more about, and possibly participate in.

– – Dianne Herrick, RC President

Community  Volunteer Mentoring  Opportunities

These past many months have imposed a forced isolation on all of us, but a group of residents from the Community Engagement Strategic Planning Work Group is seeking ways for KaLex residents to reach beyond campus and connect with the greater Rockbridge community in meaningful ways.  Two recently-created local organizations are providing the perfect opportunity to do just that.       

Inspired by the needs of citizens in our minority communities, the Walker Program and the Youth Alliance Initiative have been founded by concerned citizens and local not-for-profits to provide new business and educational opportunities for members of our communities of color.  With mentorship and networking being integral components of both programs, community residents are needed to serve as mentors and advisors to individuals participating in these programs, creating opportunities for KaLex residents to be involved.

The Walker Program, named for Harry Lee and Eliza Walker, prominent African-American Lexington entrepreneurs at the turn of the 20th century, is a community initiative to break down barriers of entry, and to help aspiring entrepreneurs of color establish and maintain new businesses in Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County.  The program provides eight weeks of free, intensive business training, followed by cash grants and continuing support through a network of local advisors.  The core strength of the Walker Program is the sense of community that is bringing business and community members together to support new businesses.

The Youth Alliance Initiative is organized to empower minority and underserved youth by guiding them toward fulfilling and prosperous futures through educational and professional learning networks.  Children in seventh and eighth grades will be identified and matched with individuals with skills and experience to support the youth,  As they participate in academic or job apprenticeships, internships, and job shadowing, they will learn and develop capabilities and networks.  The community, local schools, and the Chamber of Commerce provide funds, expertise, and internships/apprenticeships.

The volunteer administrators of both programs know that KaLex is, in their words, “a rich repository of talented and compassionate people.”  They would welcome the participation of KaLex residents as mentors. 

– – Carol Wheeler, Board Member, Chair of the Community Engagement Work Group

Both articles originally published on the February 2021 CONNECTIONS Resident Newsletter.