I LIVE UNITED by preparing for leadership

My name is Gabriel Terrell Bacon and I’ve been asked to describe how I will apply United Way’s Youth Leadership United (YLU) training in my life. I learned so many things that, I’ve condensed them into three categories: leadership, responsibility and service.

Newlink.com defines leadership as: “A process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.” That’s exactly how YLU displayed leadership.

From our wonderful instructors to the young adults around me, everyone was a leader. If something needed to be done, Annie and Alan (United Way leaders) never had to beg for help. Often, more than one person would offer to help. YLU has given me the leadership experience I need to be effective and efficient in my new role on United Way’s Hendricks County Youth As Resources Board.

My next word is responsibility: a duty or obligation to perform or complete a specific task or job. YLU taught me responsibility by giving me tasks to step out of the box, asking me to do things I never thought of or had tried before.

For example, our service project for the Boys and Girls Club gave me the opportunity to show how responsible I could be. With my YLU group, I was responsible for more than 50 children ages 5 to 12. It was our responsibility to make sure the kids were having fun, but also to make sure they were safe. From 8 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Saturday, our group supervised those children. If that doesn’t teach you responsibility, I don’t know what will!

My last and final word is service: giving of your time, talent and treasures to help someone in need. YLU taught this in so many ways, from helping with the event at the Boys and Girls Club to the very training itself: allowing adults and young adults to come in and learn how to become an effective leader through service.

I loved the entire program and am so grateful it is putting me on a leadership path. The experience reminds me of Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Thank you!

Gabriel Bacon, 2013 graduate of Youth Leadership United, is an incoming junior at Avon High School in Hendricks County. He is now serving on the county’s Youth as Resources Board and has a longer term goal of serving on the county’s United Way Advisory Board.

Editor’s note: Each year, United Way’s Youth Leadership United selects and trains 25 high school students from Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties. The training prepares them to understand the nonprofit system and volunteer on nonprofit boards and committees. This LIVE UNITED blogger is a recent graduate from Hendricks County.