“Inspiring Community Stewards”
“Jr. Leadership Cape Coral”, is a program where up to thirty high school juniors who are Cape Coral/Fort Myers residents are invited to attend a tuition free community leadership program. The host is your very own Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral who has been orchestrating the program for fourteen years now. The program and has over 400 graduates from the program.
The purposes of the program are to develop professional soft skills, provide information about various elements within our community, teach social responsibility and explore possible career choices. Once participants are chosen, they will partake in the ten-session program, which starts in November of 2016 and ends in April of 2017. The program costs are paid through large sponsorships by companies like LCEC, Cape Coral Community Foundation, and the News Press. Additionally, businesses in the community sponsor individual students. The Chamber could not host such a program without the generosity of its members.
Other members like Keiser University, Waste Pro, Siesta Pebble Interiors, City of Cape Coral, Lee County Sheriff’s department, and Gulf Coast Village donate in other ways to help make the program happen. We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. The Chamber and its members are raising community leaders!
On leadership days, students visit the local Coast Guard station and; city hall where they roleplay as city council, teach elementary students. They also get the change to function as municipal law enforcement and fire professionals, tour the juvenile court system, explore aspects of health and wellness at Cape Coral Hospital and Gulf Coast Village. Participants also learn about completing job and post-secondary applications and investigate hospitality professions. Participants experience several non-profit service agencies that help people who require special services, discover the role media plays in our community, dine with business owners, and experience how a municipal parks and recreations department influences our city. These days are organized by chamber volunteers who are graduates of the Chamber’s adult leadership program. They set great examples of lifelong community stewards.
The Chamber also offers these students many community service opportunities, which are required to graduate in many high school programs. These activities teach young folks the importance of social responsibility and good citizenship. After all, it is the goal of the program to encourage our youth to return to our community after they graduate from post-secondary programs and assume community leadership roles. We desire to continue to grow community leaders like of Joe Mazurkiewicz, Elmer Tabor, Frank Connolly, and Pastor Gingerich, to name a few, who will lead our city into the future.
We thought you should know what one group is doing to help create a sustainable community for the future. Many other groups like Rotary, Kiwanis, and scouting, also work hard to shape our community for today and tomorrow.
Mike “Q” Quaintance, MBA, Business Department Chair at Keiser University-Ft. Myers