The Sauk Valley looked especially beautiful on a recent snowy Sunday afternoon. The softly falling snow slowly hid cracks in the driveway and dog droppings in the yard, leaving a pristine cover of white for my dog and neighborhood children to enjoy.
While shoveling the snow, my mind traveled to my hometown in Indiana where my mom is struggling with her recovery from heart surgery. I also thought of former congressman, Lee Hamilton, whose “Comments on Congress” columns Sauk Valley Media frequently publishes.
What is the possible connection between my ailing mom and Lee Hamilton?
Lee was the congressman of my hometown’s district from 1965 to 1999. When I was a child, my mom was fond of saying, “If Lee Hamilton goes bad, I will never vote again.” My mom has never missed voting in an election.
In his June 2016 column “What it takes to be an effective citizen,” Lee Hamilton wrote, “Our vitality as a country depends on the involvement of millions of people in their neighborhoods and communities, in interest groups and civic organizations, in groups agitating for change, and groups defending the status quo.”
He emphasized that all citizens need the fundamental ability to solve problems: “This means knowing how to work together with all kinds of people, being able to find common ground, being forthright about aims and methods, forging connections to key officials and other players who can help advance a cause, building consensus, and communicating ideas effectively.”
The Sauk Valley is a vital region because committed groups and individuals work hard to solve our area’s problems. I am impressed by their dedication and even more impressed that they strive to develop and hone the abilities needed to tackle our tough challenges.
A case in point is the 32 Sauk Valley professionals, some in their 20s and others much older, who have been or are members of the Sauk Valley Community Leadership Program.
This program is a partnership between Sauk Valley Community College and the Dixon Chamber of Commerce / Main Street, the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce, and the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Its mission is to improve the economic vitality and civic well-being of our Sauk Valley communities through identifying emerging leaders, broadening their knowledge of our communities, and motivating them to become business and community leaders.
Beginning in August, the community leadership class meets each month through May to learn from experts about being more effective citizens. The members discuss leadership topics like ethics, public speaking, resolving conflict and strategic planning; they hear from dozens of community leaders on topics like economic development, education, diversity and health.
The Sauk Valley Community Leadership Program is accepting applications for next year’s class. Are you searching for ways to make a difference? Are you ready to build on your existing skills, experience, and passion to be a more effective citizen? Do you want to add your involvement to solving the problems – the cracks and imperfections – of the Sauk Valley?
If your answer is yes, apply to be a member of the upcoming Sauk Valley Community Leadership Program by visiting svleadership.org. Encourage a friend or neighbor to apply and email me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to readers: David Hellmich is president of Sauk Valley Community College, rural Dixon.