Perseverance, strength, and resilience are all concepts that have been redefined in 2020. The third Fellowship for the Common Good cohort has wholeheartedly and bravely shown us all three characteristics this year. In the midst of shifting to a virtual format and cancelling fellowship travel plans, fellows faced the losses of loved ones and devastating community hardships close to home. Despite these overwhelming troubles, the fellows leveraged their leadership lessons in stride and faced the world head-on, making positive change in their communities and families. Week after week, they lifted each other up through the challenges and sadness. Over the past seven months, fellows showed up for their communities, for each other, and for themselves, powered by hope, love, and trust in silver linings.
After seven months of virtual capacity building sessions and coaching, it was time for one such silver lining. Allegany Franciscan Ministries hosted a celebratory (virtual) graduation ceremony for fellows, their friends, families, leadership coaches, and biggest fans to celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of the third Fellowship cohort.
Included in the festivities were warm wishes for each fellow shared by program staff and alumni, as well as moving affirmations offered to each other. Guest speaker Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins addressed the fellows with lessons of leadership, leaving the third cohort with a poignant reminder that “there’s no leadership without partnership…The wisdom is in the group.”
Benjamin Braxton, a graduating fellow from the Lincoln Park community in Fort Pierce, tapped the power of humor in his address on how Shift Happens. Activist and public speaker, Desmond Meade, rounded out the celebration with a moving personal story of drug addiction, homelessness, and mental health struggles in his keynote address. He left the group with a powerful message:
“We can accomplish anything, and my secret ingredient is service. Giving back to others, serving our community, and channeling the motivation of service. It’s not for self-gain; it’s not for self-edification. It is based on love. L.O.V.E.”