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Servant Leadership

Members of Emerging Leaders and Select Leaders collaborate to make blankets for Timothy House
Mackenzie Phalen
July 7, 2022

Members of Emerging and Select Leaders express their selflessness through their willingness to serve others. Several students at Ohio University have only experienced Athens on campus; however, another world surrounds the community. Ian Radwancky, Emerging Leaders President, mentioned, "Before joining Emerging Leaders, I was blind to the needs of Athens outside of Ohio University. I have been able to interact with people and see the direct impact we are making through our determination to make the community better than we found it."

Members of Emerging Leaders picking up trash at Strouds Run
Members of Emerging Leaders picking up trash at Strouds Run

Most Ohio University students are only in Athens for four years to receive a degree. Still, most individuals living outside of the university call Athens home. Katie Kirkendall, the head of philanthropy for Emerging Leaders, has a special spot for Athens, believing it is crucial to give back. "Having an influencing impact on a community that I love so much is what means the most to me. One of the most important aspects of my life is to serve people and show them the same respect and love as anyone else."

Kendall Edwards, the head of Philanthropy for Select Leaders, mentioned that she grew up in a town similar to Athens, so she profoundly understands some of the struggles. Edwards feels incredibly blessed to make a difference in people's lives through the leadership skills she has adopted. "One of the biggest things I keep close to me is serving others. I try to incorporate everything I have learned through Select Leaders in all I do. I have looked deeper into the connections I have made and how my selflessness impacts others in the community," Edwards reflected.

Everything is strategically planned based on needs that members recognize in the community. Members from both programs realize that diversity and inclusion are highly lacking in Athens. Radwancky stated, "Many engagements through philanthropy events have been held with multi-culture communities. Unified Sisters has been a group that we have worked with recently. They spoke to us about who they are and their personal stories and what makes them unique on campus, which allowed us to define types of microaggressions that we might not have been able to without that engagement." Members cherish the ability to make the community a better place while acknowledging needs through communicating with others frequently.

Edwards stated, "when planning philanthropy events, I start with the end in mind, to envision the impact we could potentially make, ensuring we make the greatest change possible." Edwards recognized a need through the Survivor Advocacy Program and knew she needed to act. She has personally interacted with women who are victims of various situations, which is not talked about enough in Athens. Edwards took measures; she planned an entire event to provide these women with necessities to improve their lives, "I remember an overwhelming feeling come over me as I saw all the donations everyone brought. It's an amazing thing to see so many generous people come together and impact those in need."

Katie Kirkendall dropping off food at the Timothy House
Katie Kirkendall dropping off food at the Timothy House

All the money for philanthropy events comes from members; there is no outside funding. College students are sometimes perceived negatively, but these leadership students are changing the stigma by directly impacting Athens County. Kirkendall had a heartwarming experience recently seeing the direct impact students involved are making. "I went to the Timothy House and dropped off over 100 cans of food, and a homeless man sitting outside personally thanked us for the impact we are making; this experience proves that our hard work is paying off." Members of Select and Emerging Leaders are not just in the programs to improve their resumes but to better the lives of so many influential individuals who call Athens their forever homes.