June 9, 2020

Leadership Columbia Class of 2020 Class Project

Leadership Columbia Class of 2020 Class Project

Supporting Palmetto Place

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2020 celebrated their last days together as a team the last week of May by virtually highlighting the work that was completed at Palmetto Place with each member of the team taking part in a message about the project and what it meant to the class.

Here’s a snapshot of the process, as written by class member Jonilynn Reyes:

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2020 is so very proud of the partnership with Palmetto Place, the support of sponsors & class members collective efforts to make the project a huge success!

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2020 selected Palmetto Place as our site to exercise our collective leadership within the Columbia community. Inspired by their mission to provide a safe and supportive environment for children and teens who have faced abuse, abandonment, neglect, and/or homelessness, we wanted to help make their remodeled home a place of pride and comfort. We had the opportunity to provide long-term enhancements to the quality of life through a variety of construction projects at their site. Through our talents and connections, our class came together in inspiring ways to enhance the physical structure of Palmetto Place.

Through discussions with leaders of Palmetto Place, a quick need emerged to upgrade the residential, office, and communal spaces within the house. Within the residents’ rooms, we replaced all carpet flooring with new carpet tile. In addition, we constructed built-in shelving, patched and painted the staff office spaces. Outside of the house, we pressure washed and refinished the back porch, and replaced picnic tables. We started a basketball court extension off the back porch, which created an upgraded communal space for residents. Beyond the house, we cleaned the communal storage building, replaced latticework around the house, picked up trash, as well as raked and removed leaves from the yard. We will re-work and refill the garden boxes this month, and we hope to complete the basketball court, although this may be completed outside of the project schedule now, pending COVID-19.

I personally have fond memories of figuring out how to accomplish many of these projects. I can testify that I’ve learned some new skills along the way, including ripping up carpet, spreading carpet glue, and installing new carpet squares, which is all a lot more difficult than it sounds! The residents were patient as we moved all their belongings out of their rooms and closets, reinstalled a new floor, and undoubtedly put some items back out of place. We all benefitted from the unexpected conversations with a resident as we passed them in the hallway or took a lunch break together, and as classmates, we created new bonds and connections as we completed these projects together.

Our class completed all of this work through Spring 2020, which unfortunately was during the midst of an emerging global pandemic. We frequently shifted our workday assignments, adjusted our project timeline, and reimagined how we could deliver on the promise we made to Palmetto Place. We learned how to communicate through conference calls, emails, and phone calls when we were used to communicating in person. This required class members to step up and take the lead coordinating while others asked, “What can I do to help,” who stepped up accordingly. This project is a reminder that lofty goals that benefit our community are overwhelming at first, but the lofty goals are ultimately achievable through the shared leadership of many. There is something about figuring out a new project together, and through hard work and grit, completing it, that truly tests and exemplifies the leadership capacity within each of us. The construction contributions to our Leadership Columbia project will have a physical everlasting affect that each of us can drive by as a reminder of our time together I hope that we all will continue to pour ourselves into enhancing the heart of our city and perpetually serving Columbia.

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