Joshua Jones, NSLS Chapter President for Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus (ITCC-C), says that adhering to some basic goal-setting and leadership principles were key to his chapter hitting every single one of the NSLS pillars for the past three semesters. The chapter raised over $5,000 by coordinating community events to benefit a local nonprofit organization.
“Our events included a Winter Drive for Afghan Refugees, benefiting Team Rubicon, a fundraiser for foster children in support of BeLovedBags, Big Green Smash for the Ivy Tech Foundation Student Emergency Relief Fund, and our Pack the Pantry event, benefiting the Ivy Tech Food Pantry,” said Jones.
“We emphasized collaboration with different programs at Ivy Tech, such as the Student Leadership Academy, student government, student development, and more. All of this was achieved by being attentive, persistent, and setting SMART goals.”
Collaboration Is Vital to Success
Large fundraising events can be challenging because the many moving parts and shifting needs can create obstacles. It’s always a good idea to start by identifying one or two key individuals who can assist with specialized skills, contacts, or both.
That’s how the ITCC-C chapter began their planning process. Fortunately, that assistance was easy to identify and secure.
“When we first brainstormed ideas for Pack the Pantry, we wanted a food truck event with a silent auction. We collaborated with our new Chapter Advisor, Aundrey Ligon, who’s the ITCC-C Director of Student Services. With his help, we were able to confirm three food trucks for the event.”
Additionally, involving other stakeholders helps spread both the risk and the reward. Joshua and the ITCC-C chapter members enlisted the participation of several other groups and organizations in their community to help make their event successful.
“We’re located near a military base so we wanted to invite local military branches. With a couple of phone calls, we ended up getting the Army, Navy, and Air Force to join. We also invited public personnel from our community’s emergency response and police departments. For the silent auction portion, I contacted several local businesses, and we ended up with donations from a spray paint artist, a florist, and a ramen noodle shop, among others.”
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Challenges Bring Opportunities
Any large-scale public service event carries both obstacles and opportunities. Pack the Pantry was no exception, but as Joshua and other chapter members discovered, even those challenges can present an opportunity.
“Just when everything seemed ready to go, we experienced some obstacles due to ongoing construction. However, with some flexibility and the understanding of our participating businesses, we were eventually able to hold the event at full scale.”
Thanks to the chapter’s collaborative efforts and their choice to involve others in the planning and execution of their event, they reached an inspiring level of success.
“During Pack the Pantry, we raised about $1,400 for the Student Emergency Relief Fund. This was the biggest amount I’ve ever raised for an event. It was made significantly easier through the help from the Latino Organization of Volunteers in Education (LOVE), our Student Government Association, local artists and businesses, Ivy Tech faculty, the military, and local public figures. Having a board of people with delegated things to do also helped ensure a successful event, despite the obstacles.”
How the NSLS Helps Lead Teams to Success
Being an NSLS Chapter President at ITCC-C has helped Joshua see just how far he’s come in such a short period of time.
“If you had told me two years ago that I’d lead the coordination of multiple fundraising events, serve as a mentor, make connections, and learn about the countless resources to help myself and other members succeed, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
The opportunity to serve has helped Joshua and other student leaders achieve their goals and reach their full potential. That opportunity has even helped empower young people to accomplish things they never considered before by giving them the tools and skills they need to succeed.
“I’ve impacted my community and have seen my commitment to be a leader pay off with more opportunities than I’d ever thought was possible. I know how to present myself professionally, show people my vision of why a particular goal is important, and collaborate with different people. At every step, I learned so much from the people around me because I could see how they led others and used their knowledge to help develop their skills.”
Lessons Learned for Other Chapters
Part of being a good leader is passing on the lessons you’ve learned to other leaders. Sharing information, resources, and skills development tips is an essential part of servant leadership, as Joshua can attest. He recommends that other chapters and their leaders look for help in their communities.
“Find and use the resources that are around you. Think about what's in your local community, then look for groups, events, and causes that seem logically connected to your idea.”
And if there is no available resource at hand, Joshua has a suggestion for that, too.
“Sometimes that resource is not yet in existence. Maybe you can be the starting point to help bring it to life. Many people out there want to help but don’t know where or how to start. It's not easy to be persistent but if you present your idea well, then you can usually get other people on board.”
This is the essence of leadership for Joshua: being prepared for challenges, and looking for ways to help your team move past tough obstacles through collaboration, transforming them into opportunities.
“Understand that roadblocks will occur and try to plan as best as you can for them. In addition, it’s important to celebrate achievements with as many people as possible. This helps strengthen and empower others who are also on their leadership journey. Everyone needs to learn from each other.”
Read about another chapter of the NSLS that was so committed to helping their community, they turned their induction ceremony into a service initiative.