“Make it count.”
I must have looked more like a piece of crispy bacon than a candidate for the County Commission. For the past nine days I stood outside the Lake Jackson Community Center, one of Leon County’s early voting locations, to greet voters before they went in to cast their ballots.
The sun was relentless, but it was worth it. I could feel the election going my way. One person after another would walk out after voting and shout “I voted for you!” as they walked back to their cars. Others would quietly smile and give me a ‘thumbs up’.
Occasionally, though, a voter would say something more. “Do good.” “I believe in you.” “Make it count.”
As it turned out, I won the election and will be sworn in as a new County Commissioner on November 20th. My sunburn is fading now, but the words of those Leon County voters, urging me to “make it count,” are still very clear in my head. They’re a reminder of the solemn responsibility of any public servant: working to make this a better community.
And of course, that same notion applies to any Leadership Tallahassee alumnus/alumna who is engaged in the community. What is each of us doing to “make it count”? Whether it’s serving on a board, volunteering for a nonprofit, or something else, we all have people who have placed their faith in us. What are we doing to live up to these responsibilities? In other words, what are we doing to break through the status quo to enact positive, real change?
I also serve as the CEO of Second Harvest of the Big Bend, our regional food bank. In this role, I supervise a team of 26 employees, who collaborate with 135 churches, schools, and other nonprofits to distribute more than 8 million pounds of food to people in need. It’s a complex operation, with many moving parts and interconnected stakeholders.
As such, I’m constantly pushing against the natural tendency to slide into the status quo. It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day challenges of holding everything together: repairing one of our trucks, preparing for an audit, collecting donated food from a grocery store, or submitting a grant application. Yes, Second Harvest’s mission is to distribute healthy food to people struggling with hunger, and we need to execute this mission every day. But if we aren’t careful, weeks can go by without us thinking about the bigger picture — helping our clients become self-sufficient. My staff and I must strive for transformational change that goes beyond the daily delivery of food. To ‘make it count’ at the food bank, we’re starting to collaborate with other community partners to provide a more holistic approach so our clients will no longer need Second Harvest.
My responsibility as a County Commissioner will be to collaborate with residents to identify and pursue transformative opportunities that will improve Leon County. As I see it, every LT graduate has the same obligation in his or her service to our community. Resist the status quo. Rise above the day-to-day problems to embrace innovative, big picture thinking. That’s the best way to ‘make it count’.
Rick Minor, LT 26
County Commissioner, CEO of Second Harvest of the Big Bend