Non-Profit Day at Leadership Lodi
I woke up on March 10th ready for what the day was going to bring me. Abundant sunshine, a good morning cup of joe, and the positive energy from all my peers in Leadership Lodi 2020. I was prepared for a long and informational day visiting several non-profit organizations located in Lodi and the San Joaquin area, but I didn’t realize the complexity of emotions that would soon follow, as we all were on a mission to listen to 7 project proposals and hear from several others as to what their non-profits do on a daily basis and the impact(s) they have on our local communities…
We began by visiting the local Lodi One-Eighty Teen Center, where a project proposal was presented to potentially fix an un-working generator on the One-Eighty mobile unit that is commonly seen at our local Lodi skate park, and to join forces with the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) during the upcoming National Night Out on August 4, 2020. During our time there, we also heard from the Lodi Community Art Center which provides free on-going access for local artists and art lovers, along with sponsoring and planning over 60 Spring Art Shows for the Northern California areas. The art center is in need of a more visually enhancing lighting display for artwork, art supplies, cabinetry, and more. Next up, we learned of the collaboration with Take Back Lodi and the Lodi Police Department from Mark Armstrong. Take Back Lodi has been tirelessly working to assist in Lodi’s clean-up efforts from previous homeless camps. One of those major clean-ups directly impacted Lawrence Park, which is in hopes of being the future project and home to the K-9 training facility for our local Lodi PD. Mark Armstrong says, “We want to improve the quality of life in Lodi.” And I know my peers and I couldn’t have agreed more!
The day continued with tours of our Lodi Salvation Army warehouse and shelters, enjoying a taco salad lunch at the LOEL Senior Center, which was full of laughter and humor with our local elders, and onto another potential project for Lodi House. Lodi House will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this year in assisting over 1,000 women and children create a more stable and self-sufficient environment for themselves. Lodi House Executive Director Shelby Young is looking to resurface the playground area and plan a small re-opening celebration once completed. Emotions began to overload at this point, as the “real life” experiences of our local women and children were shown to us via video. One of my peers Joy Freeman says, “Where’s the tissue”? While we chuckled, we all knew that the harsh realities of what others face daily is easily overlooked and underseen by our own personal lives and day-to-day routine(s).
The Lodi Boys and Girls Club was the next venture, and we toured the club and heard from new Executive Director Roger Coover, about the needs to provide funding for new tables and chairs for future events, new window treatments, lighting, and other important cosmetic repairs. These needs aside, it has been an exciting time for the Boys and Girls Club as they are gaining and regaining their donor lists and were recently able to refinish their gymnasium floor and upgrade the security systems. Roger says, “We hope to spread knowledge to our broader community and help grow positive productive Lodi citizens”.
Our last stop of the day ended at Lodi’s World of Wonders (WOW) Science Museum where we heard from Program Director Jen Young. WOW is looking to renovate Grandpa Don’s Farm for the first time in over 10 years. This specific area is geared towards children 4 and under and aims to provide a hands-on learning in our local agricultural and farming experience. Although CAPC (Child Abuse Prevention Counsel) did not have a project proposal, Development Director Shauna Jacob came in and spoke to us about the objectives and goals that the county hopes to see in the coming years, beginning with their upcoming Ducky Derby during Public Safety Day on Saturday May 9th, 2020 at Weber Point. Our last speaker and project proposal was Joni Bauer from Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I will say on a personal note, this struck an emotional cord for me, as I myself was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa 5 years ago. RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) is a genetic disease that causes tunnel vision and eventual blindness. As my heart began to feel heavy, it was a breath of fresh air to hear Joni speak and present the centers project proposal of Wellness Activity Challenge geared towards the overall health and physical well-being of those visually impaired. This specific program would be sponsored by the USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes) in hopes to take 25 participants from our local area and engage in building confidence, self-esteem, and motivational support.
It was a long day filled with information, emotions, and reality. How do I, much less a group of others, even begin to decide where this year’s project will be allocated? We can all only choose one project that will bring us together and conquer a goal to enhance the lives of others. Leadership Lodi will be meeting on March 27th to make our final decision and can’t wait to share with our community where the next 10 months will bring us in this journey!