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Time 14:18


This Year, We Build

Shelby Couch - Programs Director

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

                                                          -F. Scott Fitzgerald

STLF does not run any programs in September, but this is one of our busiest seasons. Our network truly comes alive this time of year.  Students, leaders, teachers, and supporters are shrugging off the heat and slowness of August and thinking about what’s possible this year. It is fitting that STLF’s fiscal year begins anew on September 1st. We’re already feeling reenergized-let’s celebrate a new year as well!

Fall is a time of reflection and transformation. We evaluate the programming year just past and refocus our goals for this year just begun.  As I look back on the last year at STLF, I see one of our most necessary and difficult years.  We primarily work with youth ages 12-24 and last year’s election was incredibly disruptive for these age groups, how they interact with the world around them, and how they perceive leadership.  For an optimistic group of students who engage in servant leadership to create positive life experiences, we had our work cut out for us when the mood of our nation was so pessimistic. I found myself alternating between being wildly inspired to impact the world with my work, and then clinging desperately to that same work for reassurance that the world we dream of is still possible.  I observed similar patterns among our students as they planned and coordinated their Pay it Forward Tours.  The tours imbibed those feelings of disruption, inspiration, and desperation and turned them into something meaningful.  It was an incredible time in our history to be traveling to cities all across the country performing acts of service in each community we visited. We ended that tour season with strong campus communities and many seeds planted for the fall.

As the seasons change, we are seeing the fruits of that struggle. The transformation has already begun. Our college chapters are drafting their routes earlier than in the past as they are clamoring to get their registrations open for the year. Our high school cores are organized and planning the biggest February tour season we have ever seen, and our middle school programming is being revitalized with specialized training for staff in delivering on new research supported social-emotional learning benchmarks.  The energy at STLF is so powerful right now.  We have a new office in Northeast Minneapolis, we have two amazing new staff members, we have new finance and accounting procedures, we have an updated service and housing database, our board is engaged and helping us realize our goals, and we are working on some new program partnerships for this year.  So many long term projects are coming to fruition at the same time that this month feels nothing less than abundant.  

New years are good, especially in September.  We’re excited and we’re ready for the transformation. This year, we build.



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