LIMA — Allen Lima Leadership was founded in 1989 with the goal of creating more informed and more engaged community leaders. On Thursday, the program graduated its 33rd class at a ceremony at the City Club in downtown Lima.

Thirty participants were honored at Thursday’s celebration, representing a variety of private and public organizations in the area. According to ALL Executive Director Matt Childers, having this group come together for a year to learn more about their community and develop leadership has been a positive experience for everyone.

“They were a tremendous group — very engaged,” he said. “Many of them will tell you they were the best class ever.”

Like the 32 classes before them, Childers is confident this class will be a tremendous asset to Lima and Allen County.

“Our motto is ‘Lead, Connect, Evolve and Serve,’ and we feel we want to add value to every participant who is trained,” he said. “We can give them a dose of leadership and connection to their community to grow both individually and professionally, and then serve the community, not only through the impact project we have as a class, but also working on boards in the future and special projects on to the entire city and community.”

As Childers mentioned, each class is tasked with developing a project to meet a community need and make a positive impact. Some of these projects continued to have an impact long after the class graduated.

“The class of 2006 ended up doing a project called ‘Love Luggage,’ which is ongoing, and they’re working with Allen County Child Protective Services,” he said. “Whenever a foster child moves from place to place, they give them a luggage with all their toiletries and essentials.”

This year’s class was aimed at combating the financial illiteracy of the district’s youth. According to Ohio Minns Jobs-Allen County Assistant Principal Josh Parker, one of the project’s “captains,” the hope is that the effort will help young people avoid the financial pitfalls that some in the class may have faced.

“Going forward, any current Alumni of Allen Lima Leadership or Allen Lima Leadership can come and present to a group, whether it’s a 4-H group, a youth group, or something else in the area, a financial literacy presentation with a PowerPoint that plugs in -and- play where they could just walk in and talk, he said. “So we focused on budgeting, checking and savings accounts, and understanding credit. Then we did a five-minute ‘get to know us’ segment for each of us who participated, talking about where we’ve worked, what we’ve done, how we got to where we are, and what we wish we’d done differently.” .

Along with the award, special awards were presented to each graduate. One was the Alumni Award, presented to Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jed Metzger, and the other was the Lois Reubens Leadership Award, presented to Demi Bearden, Advance Planning Specialist at Chiles-Laman Funeral and Cremation Services.

For more information about ALL or to learn how to get involved, call 419-222-6045 or email [email protected]

Contact Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.