A Sure Investment
a personal testimony from one of our participants – Ms. Liberty-Grace Bland, Program Manager of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce
Are you planning for the future of your community? Do you have a vision for the next five, ten, twenty, or fifty years from now? For many, thinking and planning for the future can be daunting, especially when we’re talking about the rural communities of our region. But the good news is there is hope for your community to flourish as we progress into the future.
I’d like to take a moment to dive into the heart behind Leadership TMCN and why it is important for the TMCN region from the perspective of someone who is the result of the Leadership TMCN program.
I can’t predict the future of your community, but I can give you a bit of advice: the future of your community is currently sitting in a desk at your local schoolhouse.
Your community has limited resources, and those resources are in the form of human capital. It’s time you capitalize on your human capital – or in other terms, start investing in the future, and I promise you’ll see a return on your investment.
Typically, a community has eighteen short years to invest in youth before said youth leaves the community and/or region. Rather than exclusively providing academic education to these youth, now is the time to also provide civic education. If you don’t sow seeds today, you won’t have a crop to reap during harvest time. Today is your opportunity to instill within your youth a heart for your community and a passion for its future.
Your hope should be that said youth will leave to receive an education, chase their passions, but eventually return to their roots. There is no one better to make a difference in your community than those who were raised with an appreciation in their heart for the good that lies within what others might see as insignificant.
Here’s what I suggest: the youth of your community should be trained on how to be leaders. Opportunities for them to invest in your community are important because investing one’s heart into a community creates a bond that cannot easily be broken.
Create a seat at the table for your youth, form a Junior Chamber of Commerce board, send participants to Leadership TMCN, schedule an appointment to meet with representatives from your school systems, and find ways to engage the youth within your community. Don’t let the eighteen years of promise pass you by; rather, be the person in twenty years who is watching those youth do great things for your community as adults.
Now take everything I said, and let’s bring it home. My name is Liberty-Grace Bland (also known as Gracie by many of you). I grew up in Throckmorton, and I was graciously given a seat at the civic-minded table during my time at Throckmorton ISD. I had the opportunity to serve as a Junior Chamber of Commerce Board member, participate in TMCN legislative events, as well as be a participant and scholarship recipient in Leadership TMCN the year after its inaugural launch.
My Leadership TMCN project was restoring a museum located in the historic Throckmorton County Jail. I poured my heart, sweat, and tears into that old building as I scraped glue off the original hardwood floors. In those moments, I learned character. After graduating high school, I received a BA and an MBA, worked out of state, and then lived overseas. But then, last November, everything changed.
I was currently living in the Middle East, had just received a job offer in New York to move back to the States, and was all set to continue chasing man-made success. But then I felt a tug on my heart – one of those you just can’t seem to shake. I think those seeds planted long ago by so many of you from the TMCN region had taken root, and before I knew it, I was calling New York, turning down a job offer, and then the next week, signing my name to a job offer from the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.
I came home to Texas. I’m here working in our region, and I am passionate about the future of our communities. I have more peace investing my heart into our region than I ever did while pursuing the “significant” elsewhere. My heart was planted here long ago, and I’ve realized home is the best place in the world. Every time I drive by that old jail museum in Throckmorton, I can’t help by smile. I also can’t help but smile when I think of so many of you from the region that invested in me – thank you.
Now, this is me asking you to invest into the youth of today. I promise they’ll find more significance in leading your community into tomorrow than they will find anywhere else in the world. Please don’t discredit yourself or your community. I think what you have to offer the future civic leaders of tomorrow is something priceless. They say home is where the heart is – let’s give our students an opportunity to invest their hearts into our communities and region. Recruit a student for Leadership TMCN today!
“The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, imagination, and resources of its people.” – Ernesto Sirolli, Italian writer, and economic development expert
Teams should be chosen and registered BEFORE NOV 18TH. The students’ first session was at our Annual Conference Oct 26, but each team can jump in NOW!
We are excited for the relaunch of one of our finest programs! Also, you can show/share this fast and fun Leadership video (Above) with anyone!