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Section 5. Developing a Community Leadership Corps: A Model for Service-Learning

Example #1: A Corps Participant's Weekly Journal Entry

Each participant writes an entry for his or her Critical Reflection Journal. Each week's entry is prepared before the end of the week (1-2 double-spaced typed pages total). A journal entry consists of weekly comments on an idea important for building healthy communities, overall reflections on problems or challenges in carrying out the work, and overall how insights from the ideas could be used to improve your efforts to build healthy communities.

A copy of each journal entry has to be faxed or emailed to the director by the end of each week. Each journal entry is reviewed by the director and returned the following week. Participants are encouraged to use a loose leaf binder to store journal entries for the summer.

The following is an excerpt from one participant's journal.

Through my second week at the initiative, I have discovered that each of the tasks, or activities, performed by the staff members, as well as myself, is a small building block through which wide and encompassing visions are established. I began the week completing the county substance use report. The work was very involved, and at many times seemed tedious, but I have begun to see the value of this very time consuming process. These substance use reports were composed of carefully selected data from a huge bulk of information, gathered through surveys and compiled into thick, heavy, notebooks. Each of the county notebooks contained a wealth of information, including an enormous amount of statistics that could be extremely useful in defining and analyzing community problems, yet they were so very cumbersome.

The staff members of the initiative were quite familiar with the facts presented within the notebooks and the areas of concern pertaining to substance use within the community, yet the task of distributing this data was nearly impossible. The initiative needed something that would simplify the process of informing a mass number of people about the significant facts pertaining to youth within the community. These substance use reports, which I spent so many hours forming, would be used in many group meetings and discussions, programs, and grant requests. The single sheet of paper would help to educate and influence, while proceeding toward an action plan to better the situations defined through the data.

Besides the extensive work with the substance use reports, I attended and recorded the city prevention coalition meeting that was held in a conference room of the initiative. The coalition is formed of representatives from various prevention organizations, such as county regional prevention centers, MADD, and court services. I was impressed with the proficiency and involvement of the meeting. All of the individuals present were very informative, flexible, and committed. Each representative volunteered services and was engaged within the coalition's goals and task at hand. At this particular meeting, the organization of a workshop pertaining to methamphetamines was intensively discussed.

Towards the end of the week, I was asked to observe an educational program taught by Barbara, one of the initiative's staff members, at the county juvenile detention center. The class focused on the harmful effects of alcohol. I was amazed at the behavior of many of the, youth whom attended the class, as I was admirable of Barbara's patience and collected manner in which she spoke. Although there were many guards within the room, the juveniles often blurted out inappropriate comments or personal testimonies, made fun of others who asked questions, or simply ignored Barbara altogether. However, I watched with appreciation as Barbara tried to help change the views of many of these individuals. They will never make any improvement if they are not exposed to the harmful consequences of their behavior as well as to the healthy alternatives to these behaviors. These youth are still quite young and can definitely turn their lives around. It may be an extremely difficult change in direction, yet there is a tremendous amount of hope and possibility that they will each progress.

Lastly, I was also invited to attend a town meeting in Anytown. This was very beneficial to me, as I am not quite familiar with small towns and the order in which they are run and organized. I found the issues discussed and the opinions of the attendees very interesting. Even though Anytown is a much smaller community than I am used to, I found that they are faced with many of the same problems, such as substance use and poor communication between adults and youth. However, the methods suggested to improve these situations were somewhat different from that which might work within larger communities. I found that because all communities are different, there is no best way to approach a problem. Each issue should be viewed and addressed as contextual.

Example #2: Interview with Wendy Wilson

Wendy Wilson is the Director of Rosedale Development Associates (RDA). She has been working with RDA for eight years. RDA served as a host organization for the Kansas Community Leadership Corps in the summer of 1999. RDA is a neighborhood revitalization organization in the Kansas City, Kansas metro area.

CTB: What interested you in becoming a host organization for the Kansas Community Leadership Corps?

Wilson: We need all the hearts we can get to help us do what we are trying to do in this community which is to improve the community and make it more livable-- safe from crime, economically viable, helping people fix their homes, those kind of things. So, any opportunity I have to have someone else involved, I'm going to reach out for that. And also it was an opportunity to mentor and develop other people to do the work that we do which is important. There's nothing that tells people how to do it, you just have to jump in and do it.

CTB: So it gives you an opportunity to learn how to do the work hands on. Could you tell me about your Leadership Corps member and what she did during her placement with your organization?

Wilson: Her name was Erica Swanholm. And the same day that I got the call about Erica coming here, I also got a call from the Board of Public Utilities here locally and they were going to make a grant to us to have a summer youth employment program. We, we're pretty much a two-person office: myself and then a staff secretary. And my fear was how in the world are we going to get this done, how are we going to manage this program, this is not something we had planned. And we had to get this program up and running within two weeks. And so I said, "Erica, have I got a deal for you" and turned it over to her. So she ran that program very, very well. We did interviews with youth, we found job placements for youth and their parents that were in their area of interest if we could. We ended up being able to pay twenty-two youth and then another thirty youth were tutored over the summer. So we impacted fifty-two youth.

CTB: Was the tutoring some sort of apprenticeship or actual tutoring?

Wilson: No, like school. They taught math and other subjects. They were young kids. Some of the students that we hired worked in a program where they tutor younger children in reading and math, those kind of things. We had Erica come in and fill out an application form; she also met with the employers... Most of these youths were from fourteen to sixteen, and we had a couple that were eighteen. And some of them worked in area businesses, like a veterinary hospital and a printer.

CTB: How did you advertise?

Wilson: We had no time to really advertise. What we did was call up some people that I knew had been active with youth projects in our community and had them put the word out for us to the youth in the area, and that was great. We had plenty of youth, we had a diverse group. We ended up sharing some of our money with the neighboring community which is Argentine. Our youth were African-American, Hispanic, Latino, and Anglo-American. We didn't plan it that way, but our community is diverse enough and communication is diverse enough we ended up that way.

So it was a wonderful program. Erica did the payment scale, made sure they got their paycheck legally, figured out their timesheets, dealt with their employers and with the students. We also had a couple of sessions where all the students got together and talked about issues of drug and alcohol usage and avoidance and other issues that they wanted to talk about.

CTB: Was it modeled after any other program?

Wilson: Nope. It was out of my head. But we thought it would be good for the kids in getting them ready to be active members of the workforce down the road. Erica also organized a Paint a Barrel project. We had decided before she came an to do an Adopt a Barrel where neighbors adopt a fifty-five gallon trash barrel, put it out in a high traffic area, and they're responsible for changing the bags out when it's full and putting it in the back.

We had families who wanted to adopt the barrels but we didn't have the actual barrels yet--so Erica also organized that and then the playground across from our office. We had I think it was twenty-six youths that came, some with parents, on a Saturday morning to do artwork on the trash barrels. Erica also brought in an artist from Manny Rhodes Center, which is a local non-for-profit group, and the artist worked with some of the kids. She went to the library and got books for the kids to get some ideas about what they wanted to do. We went and bought the materials because I had some money for that. And the kids had a wonderful time. There was paint everywhere, but they had a wonderful time and it really developed a sense of pride. Now the barrels are out in the community--it was a sense of kind of bringing them in and now when they go by the barrels they painted they see they're a part of our community--instead of doing an art project that you can just go home and hang on the wall, this is something that's now out in the community.

CTB: You definitely make an investment in the aesthetics of the community if you have a piece of it that you can see.

Wilson: Erica also worked with a student who couldn't figure out what she wanted to do, but she had considered writing. So Erica worked with her to develop a youth newsletter that we've since had published. And was distributed through the local schools.

CTB: What benefits does your organization receive as a host for the Kansas Community Leadership Corps?

Wilson: Well, it would have been very difficult for us to have summer youth employment. I really don't know how we would have done that program without someone from Kansas Community Leadership Corps.

CTB: So will it be continued next summer?

Wilson: Well, this was the first time (for the summer job program). But it was so successful with us and other groups they did it with that they are making it year -round starting in January, although I think the focus still will be summer. And they've increased the monies a little bit. So we would love to have another volunteer from the leadership corps' It was wonderful having her here. She still is in contact with the President of my board and the community police officer here. I think we made a long-term relationship here. And we did a lot of things. It isn't a large agency--it's a very small, very intimate group of people and she got to see all the people from the community that would walk in and need help.

CTB: What advice would you have for someone who works with an organization similar to yours who is thinking about getting involved in hosting a leadership corps participant?

Wilson: What advice would I have for them? Do it. I mean, it was such a wonderful experience. Erica is really bright, and very mature. She just took it over with little direction, was very creative. It was wonderful.

CTB: I think it's a great opportunity for everybody involved. You really get a chance to benefit from the help of apprenticing somebody to get involved in the work first hand.

Wilson: Erica was struggling with what she wants to do in graduate school. She had three or four areas, so I set up interviews with her, several, in those areas. She met with the Dean of the School of Social Welfare at KU, she met with the city administrator here and she talked with to another gentleman who is in urban planning. And so she got to sit down with them and talk to them about what those jobs entail are the areas she was thinking of going into, and I think she also got a good idea of what sort of thing she doesn't want to do as well.

Example #3: Interview with Vicki Collie

Vicki Collie was a participant in the Kansas Community Leadership Corps in the summer of 1998.

CTB: What interested you in participating in the Kansas Community Leadership Corps?

Collie: I think that my interest was rooted in the fact that I always wanted to work in an RPC--since high school. That's what I was going to school to do: to work in a regional prevention center.

CTB:What organization did you work with and what did you do there?

Collie: I worked at the Johnson, Miami, and Leavenworth Regional Prevention Centers and I did many different things. One of the things I did was I designed a resource manual that was distributed around 54 sites in Johnson County.

Another thing was when the secretary of Health and Human Services designed a program called Girl Power that was being being implemented in Johnson County. The neat thing about Girl Power is that every community can use it any way they want. And Johnson County had decided to do an essay contest, and so I designed a day-planner that could be distributed that was designed to reinforce girls' abilities and accentuate the strengths of being a girl.

I went to the juvenile detention center every other Thursday and observed the discussions that went all around drug and alcohol abuse prevention there, and I was a model for the Kansas Anti-Tobacco Coalition on one of their billboard campaigns.

CTB: Nice!

Collie: Yeah, so, I think that was a pretty unique experience for the leadership corps. (Laughs).

CTB: What sort of skills did you learn or improve on during your placement?

Collie: I learned a lot about community interventions. I don't think I had the knowledge of how vastly a community can work together. And I learned a lot, I mean a lot, about alcohol and drug abuse prevention, which is exactly what I wanted to learn. I learned about risk factors and protective factors and then also strength -based practices.

CTB: Was the community mobilized on its own or did you do a lot with mobilizing the community or building on the foundation?

Collie: Actually, I forgot to tell you one of the things I did. I worked with Merriam, Kansas. They had a coalition there that was really unique. About 3 years before I started working there they had a shooting that killed two kids at the swimming pool, and they were kids from the inner-city part of Kansas City, and the whole community pretty much detested kids after that. It was very strange; they were not trusting at all! So there was this coalition that the RPC was helping lead that was working to promote good relationships between the adults and children. So I worked with that coalition a little and we did do some mobilization in terms of trying to get different events that would bring adults and be trans-generational events. So, that's what I did, and it was really nice to see the community come together on that one.

CTB: Do you think the relations between the adults and kids have improved?

Collie: I think so, yeah, you could see definite changes. One of the things we did was we hosted painting parties. For example, we painted a house that was going to be used by developmentally-disabled people in Merriam and then the house of an elderly gentlemen who couldn't do it himself and stood to get fined by the city if he didn't paint his house.

CTB: That's wonderful!

Collie: It was really nice to see parents and their children and other parents and other children working together on that project--then one of the things that we wanted to do was have a pool party, and the pool was exactly where the shooting happened.

CTB: That must have been really high emotion.

Collie: Right. It almost didn't get passed because there were just too many concerns of safety issues and our country has seen more shootings of this sort and everything. Anyway, it got passed, which was a really big achievement because it said a lot about how the community is beginning to restore its faith in the youth.

CTB:What do you see as the benefits your host organization received for taking part in the corps?

Collie: I think that they had extra people power for one, and I think they also liked getting a different point of view--I was 18 at the time. I think I carried a different perspective, and I think that in teaching me they developed a sort of critical consciousness of what they were doing. The whole point of the resource manual and the reason why I designed it was because they kept telling me how in Johnson County they had the money to do tons of different programs, but they couldn't get the people to come to them. The knowledge wasn't getting out. So the idea of the resource manual was to take the information on all the programs that were available to the people--put in waiting rooms and employee break rooms and so on.

CTB: Is there anything that you'd like to add?

Collie: Hmm... I think that one of the things that I really valued about the leadership corps is that I got to meet some amazing professionals that were very influential in my understanding of community development and drug and alcohol abuse prevention. It was completely invaluable to me. I really enjoyed myself, and I learned so much !

Example #4: Kansas Community Leadership Corps 1999 Recognition Dinner Program

Kansas Community Leadership Corps

Recognition Dinner

7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 5, 1999

The Eldridge Hotel

Lawrence, KS


Engaging future generations of leaders in creating healthy communities in Kansas


7:00 p.m.

Welcome and introductions - Jerry Schultz, Ph.D., Director


7:10 p.m.



7:30 p.m.

Speaker Presentations

Reginald Robinson, Counsel to the Chancellor and Chair of the Public Service Taskforce at the University of Kansas

Andrew O'Donovan, Commissioner, Kansas Office for the Advancement of Prevention

7:50 p.m.

Recognition of Corps members by Host organizations

8:00 p.m.

Kansas Community Leadership Corps Presentations and Recognition Ceremony

Melinda Carden

From Lenexa, KS. Worked with the Wyandotte County Regional Prevention Center

Brooke Draper

From St. Francis, KS. Worked with the Regional Prevention Center of Northwest Kansas.

Kristen Elliott

From Westchester, IL. Worked with the Social Norms Media Campaign.

Amanda Langley

From Salina, KS. Worked with Kansas Action for Children, Inc.

Lori Legg

From Olathe, KS. Worked with the Regional Prevention Center of Johnson, Miami, and Leavenworth Counties.

Larisa Roemisch

From Andover, KS. Worked with Kansas Family Partnership, Inc.

Fermin Santos

From Shawnee, KS. Worked with the Regional Prevention Center of Johnson, Miami, and Leavenworth Counties.

Erica Swanholm

From Stilwell, KS. Worked with Rosedale Development Associates.

Ameshia Tubbs

From Lawrence, KS. Worked with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Douglas County.

Emily Williams

From Milford, IA. Worked with Safe Streets

*Melinda Carden, Kristen Elliott, and Erica Swanholm participated in the Corps, but are currently not at the University.

8:45 p.m.


Our Thanks to...

Host Community Organizations:

Liz Baehner: Johnson, Leavenworth, & Miami Counties

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Social Norms Media Campaign

Sue Evans: RPC of Northwest Kansas

Mary Beth Karlin: Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Douglas County

Linda Stewart: RPC of Wyandotte County

Michelle Voth: Kansas Family partnerships, Inc.

Dodie Wellshear Johnson: Kansas Action for Children

Wendy Wilson: Rosedale Development Associates

Sally Zellers: Safe Streets

Executive Advisory Board:

Judge John Barker

Debbie Castell

Andrew O'Donovan

Corelia "Cokie" Diggs

Clay Edmands

Elaine Johannes

Harriet Lange

James Tangeman

Michelle Voth

Technical Assistance:

Preston Caprez

Elayne Cinalli

Judy Donovan

Duane Dyer

Barbara Gibson

Mike Lowther

Patty Martin

Suzanne Woods

The Kansas Community Leadership Corps is sponsored by the Center for Community Health and Development​ at the University of Kansas, and is funded through a grant from Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services of Kansas.


Our thanks to everyone who helped make this year's Kansas Community Leadership Corps project a success.


Chris Hampton
Jerry Schultz