I am a homegrown Tallahassee guy. I have always been proud to call this city my home. Living here for so long, I always thought that I knew everything about this community. When I first heard about Leadership Tallahassee, I thought it sounded like a great program for people that had moved to Tallahassee, but for someone like me that had roamed the streets of this town as a kid, I didn’t need to participate. However, I decided to join Opportunity Tallahassee to see what all the hype was about. During my OT day, I learned things, went places, and met people that made me realize that I didn’t know my hometown and the people in it the way that I thought.
During my year in LT 39, I learned something very important and was reminded of a vital truth. Throughout my journey that year, I met many unsung heroes who faithfully serve so many in this community without desiring accolades and with scant resources. These faithful servants remind me of the wise words from the modern philosopher, Lil’ Wayne: “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna”. They are always hustling and doing heroic things for others quietly and without a spotlight on them. They punch in and out every day caring for the vulnerable, helping the sick and fighting for the flourishing of the little ones. I learned that to serve the people of Tallahassee, we don’t need to create new non-profits and businesses; instead, we need to be collaborating with and resourcing those that have been putting in the sweat equity for years.
I was also reminded of the importance of community. The individuals that made up LT 39 were people that I may have never met or grown to know outside of the program. We all have different origin stories, live in different areas of town, and work in vastly different sectors, but I needed every one of them in order to learn and grow the way that I did that year. I have learned to be a better husband and father because of some of the men in my class. I learned how to better care for the students in our city and the sacrifice it takes to give them a future from my classmates that are educators. All of my classmates are high-capacity individuals that displayed proficiency in balancing work and life. I am a better employee because of habits that I gleaned from them. There were people in my LT 39 family that taught me how to make the best of adversity and use it to shine brighter on the other side.
That is what community is all about. We were never meant to exist in solitude and work in silos. Every one of us has something that others need, and each of us needs to learn from each other. Our bodies are healthiest when all of the parts are healthy and functioning properly together. The same goes for our community. Leadership Tallahassee has introduced me to many different people that I have been able to collaborate with in business and in serving the people in this place that I call home.