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That was one of the questions that ran through my head on January 14th, as I entered the first day of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s (DMCLF) Impact Denver class. I also wondered what could little ole’ me have to offer to the community? How will I make an impact and what exactly does that mean? Although I fully understand the power that people can have within their community, I was a bit unsure of my ability to make a difference beyond my company or my family.

During the past six months the DMCLF staff organized information-filled classes about issues and topics that impact our local community. My classmates and I heard from various speaker including Tom Clark, executive vice president, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation; James Mejía, CEO, Denver Preschool Program; Anne Warhover, president & CEO, The Colorado Health Foundation; Jamie Van Leeuwen, former project manager, Denver’s Road Home; KieAnn Brownell, president, Metro Denver Sports Commission; and Councilman Michael Hancock, Denver City Council, District 11. Topics ranged from education and health and wellness, to sports and culture, to community service and board involvement. Regardless of the topic the message was always the same – the only way to make an impact is to get involved. By the end of each class the question was no longer, “will I make an impact,” but instead “how can I not?”

On our final day of class, Councilman Hancock asked one thing – forgo an hour of ‘me time’ each month and give that hour back to the community. Recently, The Denver Business Journal published an article about Denver ranking 12th among 51 large U.S. metro areas for volunteering. On average, Denver residents donated about 40.4 hours of volunteer community service a year, representing $1.6 billion a year in labor. Imagine the impact that would be made if each of us upped the ante and gave one hour of time each week and also financially committed to supporting one charity – maybe Denver would then be propelled to #1 on this list?

Last Thursday, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation graduated 49 members of the 2010 class of Impact Denver. In addition to realizing that I can make an impact, I will forever be bonded to my classmates through our shared experiences in our class and our future endeavors in our community. On graduation day, we voted on our class project. As a class, we have committed to using our time and talent to assist Denver Public Schools, Slow Food Denver, Sprout City Farms and it various partners in the launch of its school garden and school farm pilot program at McGlone Elementary. Over the next year, the Impact Denver 2010 class has committed to our hour per month, what are you willing to do?

~ Kristina

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