Keeping the Focus: To Not Act on What Inspires Us, Stifles Us

Robert Gunn, Jr.

Robert Gunn, Jr. (FL ’12) principal intern, Olmsted Academy North

Focus Louisville – April 2012

I will be the first to admit that I have been to wonderful professional development sessions and have been inspired by something that I have seen or heard, only to let my inspiration fall to the wayside because I failed to turn that inspiration into action. Many of us have careers and families that demand the majority, if not all of our time. While I cannot fault anyone for working and spending time with their family, I would like to FOCUS our attention on those who are less fortunate and need some assistance.

During the two and a half days I spent with Focus Louisville, I learned a tremendous amount of facts about the history of Louisville and the things that contribute to our city and community (Thanks Dr. Tom). I learned to appreciate the fact that there is a push to “Keep Louisville Weird.” However, I also learned that there is a need for individuals in our community to step up and assist those in need. Too often, we fall short on acting or volunteering because we either think our individual efforts won’t have a large enough impact or as I previously stated, we just don’t we have the time. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of both.

I visited the Americana Center, which helps many refugees from various countries around the world. We were given a tour of the facilities and heard various stories of heartache, injustice, and barbarism that many people who come to the center have experienced in their lives. When asked what we could do to help, we were given a vast list of things we could either provide or things we could do to assist the families at the center. As an educator, I have many of the students of these families at my school. I have vowed to help educate these students as well as provide time outside of school to assist at the center. Unfortunately, to this point, I have done neither. For me, that changes today, Wednesday May 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM when I will arrive at Americana.

In writing this, I am hoping that speaking about my experience that inspired me as well as many others in my group will resonate with you and get you to think of what inspired you. Next, I would like you to ask yourself what you have done about it. If you are like me and have done nothing thus far, don’t beat yourself up or be ashamed. Instead, get up and do something. Anything is better than nothing and trying to do too much might simply wear you down. Whether it’s money, time, sharing your personal experiences or providing resources, do what you can; but please remember, good intentions without actions will not warrant change and become mere thoughts and words.


My Focus Louisville experience

Martha Mather

Martha Mather (FL ’12) vice president and chief operating officer, Our Lady of Peace

Focus Louisville – April 2012

I moved to Louisville in March slightly apprehensive from Atlanta. I can honestly say that after just a short six weeks, I am a new ambassador of Louisville. Here’s why:

1) The passion of the people living in this community supersede that of any other city I’ve lived in (Atlanta, Raleigh, Memphis, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.),

2) The surroundings – Louisville is an underrated city…the parks, restaurants, festivals, (I started to wonder if that is a strategy…to keep Louisville a secret), and

3) The social services resources for people in need.

My background is in social services. I’ve worked in community centers, outpatient settings, and psychiatric hospitals in several states. I was particularly touched while touring The Healing Place for Women. A former consumer toured us and shared her story while doing so. Her humility, courage, and acceptance really impacted me. This is an organization who does not ask for a single dime from their consumers, relying completely on the generosity of this community. It is a lovely setting for women recovering from alcohol or drug abuse. I could feel the camaraderie, love, and support penetrating the atmosphere as we walked through each phase of the program.

I left the Focus Louisville program with a to-do list – some easier than others – donate clothing, make a financial contribution, tour the West End School, eat out in NuLu, and tell everyone about my experience! I want my family and colleagues both to experience Louisville the way I have. And there is no greater introduction than Focus Louisville.

Have you ever eaten a slice of humble pie?

Liz Griffin Hack

Liz Griffin Hack (FL '12) sales and marketing specialist, Parallel Products

A definition of humble pie on is “to be forced to admit a fault”. I had my slice after going through Focus Louisville in February.

I am a native Louisvillian and so is my mom. I live in the East End and I am a product of Jefferson County Public Schools. Go Rams! I have family who live all over Louisville. I am a museum member and a season ticket holder. I have been volunteering in Louisville since my grandma took me to her church to help separate clothing donations for Louisville’s homeless. I had it all covered. If I had a question, I had my resources to answer it. That’s what I thought, anyway, before Focus Louisville.

I follow Leadership Louisville on Facebook and I get the e-newsletter. From all that wonderful content I got curious. Maybe there was something I could learn after all. Enter humble pie!

The 2 ½ days of touring, conversation and education re-invigorated me. We covered it all; local history, economic development, the arts, education, non-profits. I had no idea the national talent Actors Theatre cultivates in their Apprentice/ Internship program. I didn’t know how many schools are in the JCPS system, 155. UofL is doubling in size; building apartments while renovating hospitals for LEED certified status. I posted questions on Facebook like, “Did you all know that there are 1800 non-profits in Louisville?” Whether it was from speakers or classmates, I learned something new about my community in every session. I was reenergized and motivated to not just be in my community but to be a part of it.

After two days of tours, performances, power point and networking the class met to talk about moving forward from our experiences. Our last agenda action item from Focus Louisville is to reflect and commit to something after graduation. I committed to using my skills to engage with the community through volunteering. I have started volunteering with a group called, Do Something Green. It’s a call to action for the entire community to do something sustainable for our environment. So far it’s been a rewarding experience.

I ate my slice of humble pie and I bet I could share it with other Louisville natives. They’d realize too that it doesn’t taste so bad.