I believe that you can’t help to lead a community you don’t love, and you can’t love a community you don’t know. Having worked in this community for the past 25 years, what amazes me the most is the strong network created by our non-profit partners, philanthropic organizations, and educational institutions. The spirit of collaboration is alive and well in this community, and it is one of the qualities that I believe will help move the needle for economic mobility as residents increase their income.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County’s new Desich Family Campus. A partner of Lorain County Community College, the Boys and Girls Club provides an invaluable service to the youth in our community – often serving as the tipping point in helping young people choose a positive life path. The event celebrated the naming of a new facility after the Desich family, which brings yet another connection to LCCC. Dick Desich was a College Trustee for 34 years in fact, and has been a strong philanthropic supporter for many years. Dick spoke to the youth at the event and shared that he grew up in that same neighborhood. He challenged them to stay in the Boys and Girls Club and then enroll at LCCC. The bonus for those who persist – an LCCC scholarship funded by Dick Desich – to earn their degree.
One of the speakers at the ribbon-cutting was a remarkable young lady named Rosie Shepherd. Rosie was raised by a single mom, lived in extreme poverty, suffered through the loss of a close family member, and was victimized by a bully. She eventually landed at the Boys and Girls Club in response to her school principal’s suggestion after witnessing her negative behavior at school –certainly a normal reaction to her challenging life circumstances.
The Boys and Girls Club provided Rosie with a safe place to go after school and a caring staff who helped her discover her life’s purpose and deal with unknown medical issues. Today, Rosie has a bright future. She was recently recognized as the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County’s Youth of the Year as well as the State of Ohio’s Youth of the Year due to her award-winning essay discussing the impact the Club’s impact on her life. Rosie advanced to the Mid-West Regionals in Chicago two weeks ago and now has plans to continue her education right here at LCCC this fall. Her goal – to teach fourth grade. Congratulations, Rosie!
Rosie’s ability to overcome the odds and launch a successful pathway to her future is remarkable. We’re committed at LCCC to help give the “Rosies” of our community the hope they need to build a better future. Fourteen percent of all families in Lorain County with children under 18 are headed by single female heads of households, and nearly half of these families live below the poverty level.
As the President of this community’s College, I feel a deep responsibility toward bringing awareness to the challenges facing our community, as well as identifying hopeful solutions. Research has shown that access to education can be a powerful factor in making a meaningful impact for those who are under-resourced. I take to heart the “community” in Lorain County Community College. After all, it’s our middle name.
I recently invited the College’s Administrative Leadership Team to spend the day with me exploring Lorain’s vibrant past. Our gracious and informative host was Barb Piscopo, Executive Director of the Lorain Historical Society, who led us through the city exploring its historic industrial past and ending with a look at the future. We spent time at El Centro with Executive Director Victor Leandry and his team to explore enhanced educational programs that more fully address the needs of our Latino community. Our day ended focused on high school students and the world of possibilities at the new Lorain High School. What an amazing facility, but more importantly a symbol of opportunity. I’m delighted that LCCC’s partnership with Lorain City Schools transcends to new levels at Lorain High through Titan College, which offers high school students the opportunity to graduate high school with both an associate degree and a high school diploma free of charge. The new high school will also be home to the LCCC Community Learning Center, designed to complement Titan College by providing community members with access to the courses and training they need to succeed in the 21st century. And of course, LCCC will continue to operate its City Center location in downtown Lorain with the goal of providing multiple educational locations as an added convenience for Lorain residents.
This enhanced partnership with Lorain City Schools demonstrates LCCC’s commitment to our community and the power of collaboration. I am so proud to be leading a College that holds tight to these values:
- We are the community’s college
- We are trusted by the community to educate, lead and inspire
- We create a better, more sustainable future for our community
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I will close with one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”