Leadership Development Academy helps others with several Rock County projects

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Photo provided (From left): Members of team Rock United include: Bobbie Ennocenti of First Community Credit Union; Jodine Saunders of City of Beloit; Lamikka James of Head Start; Katie Crist of United Way Blackhawk Region; Stephen Cardwell, of Foremost Media and John Kaminski of the School District of Beloit.

JANESVILLE - The Leadership Development Academy (LDA) of Rock County is doing more good than ever. With graduation set for May 9, several great projects are underway throughout the county.

The LDA invites the public to attend the free Project Presentation Day for the class of 2018-19 set for 2 - 5 p.m. on May 9 at The Venue, 37 S. Water St., Janesville.

Each of the 29 members of this year's graduating class are working to produce a collaborative project that addresses a specific community need.

This year's Leadership Development Academy projects include: Revitalizing Recovery is updating the 12 & 12 Drop In Center; House of Mercy Bed Project is providing new beds for the House of Mercy Homeless Shelter; Milton Area Youth Center is assisting with sustainable funding sources; Community Development Academy is partnering students with businesses to develop their talents; and Through the Eyes of Rock County Veterans created a film featuring local veterans.

Beloit Department of Public Works Director of Operations Jodine Saunders, who is working on the project to replace metal bed frames and mattress encasements for the House of Mercy Homeless Shelter, shared a little bit about her experience in the class. She said she's toured companies and learned a lot about leadership in the inspiring program. Although she was on the more mature side of her group's participants and had a few challenges such as a ropes course, she said it has been an amazing experience. She became more familiar with a variety of businesses in the county, leaders, nonprofit activities and great people she wouldn't have otherwise met.

Saunders said her group's goal is to raise $10,500 for mattress frames which will replace those at the shelter that are more than 20 years old. Although her group considered other projects, they ended up being moved by the sight of homeless people.

The project was quite challenging, meeting with Mercy House staff, learning about how to go about fundraiser and researching the best bed frames to purchase.

"They are heavy duty and should last a long time," Saunders said.

The group is about halfway toward its fundraising goal.

To make donations for the beds people can visit The House of Mercy Homeless Shelter link at https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=5dc9ea. In the section titled "Tribute Information" people should please add "For LDA Project" in the message field. The group also has a Gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/new-beds-for-the-house-of-mercy-homeless-center.

Donations can be mailed to House of Mercy Homeless Center, Attn: Tammie King-Johnson, 320 Lincoln St. Janesville, WI 53548. People can make checks payable to House of Mercy and they can write on the check "For LDA Project."

"The Leadership Development Academy participants are making a difference in Rock County. Their projects are sustainable and will impact others for years to come," said Linda Ross, Executive Director of the Leadership Development Academy in a press release.

A graduation celebration for this year's Leadership Development Academy participants will be held from 5-8 p.m. on May 9 at The Venue. Tickets are $40 each and are available by contacting Executive Director Linda Ross at linda@ldarock.com.

LDA is accepting applications for next year's class until June 1. For more information on LDA and its program, visit www.ldarock.com or contact Executive Director Linda Ross at 608-352-3328 or linda@ldarock.com.

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