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August 15, 2013
A New Concept: The Leadership Initiative
By Rick Winterson

Please reserve next Thursday evening, August 22, for the initial fundraiser in support of a new concept in South Boston.  It’s called “the Leadership Initiative”; their fundraiser will take place at that Castle Island landmark, the Harry McDonough Sailing Pavilion.  There’ll be refreshments, raffle items, and a brief (quite brief) presentation of the The Leadership Initiative’s aims and plans.  A $20 donation is suggested. 

The Leadership Initiative concept grew out of informal get-togethers among people who grew up in South Boston, and then succeeded in completing their college studies and finding challenging work.  They learned from what went well for them; they learned as much from what didn’t work for them. 

These South Bostonians felt they could help young people to succeed - the young people aged 12 to 18, who are coming up behind them.  They have become motivated.  They intend to leverage their networking to make The Leadership Initiative happen.  Perhaps it’s a bit trite to say these successful South Bostonians are “giving back”, but no matter, because that’s exactly what they are doing. 

You might  know many of those in The Leadership Initiative.  The Board members include Sarah McGarrell (the Chair), Brian Carthas, Mary Hurley, Andrew Collins, Tom Dearnley, Jack Owens, and Ryan Sweeney, who serves as The Leadership Initiative’s Program Director. 

The framework for The Leadership Initiative is being developed right now.  You’ll hear more about it next Thursday evening at the Sailing Pavilion.  According to Ryan Sweeney, a multi-week program is planned for the fall during after-school hours.  After breaks for the Holiday Season and school vacations, there’ll be another, ongoing program in the spring, which will build upon the skills achieved in the fall.  As mentioned, this will be focused on South Boston’s young people from ages 12 through 18.

The aims will be varied, and fitted to the needs of individual members of the Initiative. Here are some examples of what can happen: 

A BPS math teacher, Patrick O’Brien, is thinking of offerings that include a revival of the Math Olympiad and which could extend to SAT preparation.   Amber Fetzer has a course she developed in financial literacy for teenagers that has been well received in South Boston.   Jane Kelly teaches English at Latin Academy; she’ll be working with The Leadership Initiative.  Will Wilson, the son of the hardware store owner, is a personal trainer and wants to work with young people on “athleticism” (not “athletics”) and healthy nutrition.  A company named CAP Inc. has donated ten computers to The Leadership Initiative.  The program is gaining momentum rapidly. 

Program Director Ryan Sweeney was born in the L and Third Street neighborhood, went to Boston Latin, and graduated from St. Anselm.  He has refereed hockey across the country, most recently with the East Coast Double-A League.  This year, he joined The Leadership Initiative as its full-time Program Director, but will still referee hockey part-time.  Ryan’s enthusiasm for The Leadership Initiative is contagious. 

Come down to the Harry McDonough next Thursday evening, August 22 (6 to 10).  The Leadership Initiative is something you should get to know about.  See you there.

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