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Effingham YMCA starts student leadership initiative
09.11 YMCA CLA
Members of the inaugural Christian Leadership Academy at the Effingham YMCA are, front row, left to right: Emily Woods, Hannah Steese, Abby Chance and Danielle Paulk; back row, Cody Warnock, Micah Christensen, Landon Snooks, Richie Socia, Nicole Bailey, Holly Nancy, Aaron Willis and Larry Spradley. - photo by Photo provided

What will the leaders of Effingham county look like in 10 years? This is a question that the Effingham YMCA is taking very seriously as they seek to develop today’s students into strong leaders for the future.  

Recently, the Effingham YMCA kicked off a new initiative called the Christian Leadership Academy with the purpose of carrying Christian principles into the future world of family, education, government and business.  

“We’ve got to stop complaining about the shape our world is in and start doing something positive to change it,” said Dr. Darren Thomas, YMCA board member. “We have our nation and our world’s greatest resource right here under our noses, our youth, and we need to put our energy into developing the abilities and talents that God has already planted into them. These young men and women have a lot to offer us.”

Twelve high school sophomores and juniors were selected from nominations that came from all over Effingham County. The 2009-10 inaugural class of the Christian Leadership Academy includes: Nicole Bailey, Abby Chance, Micah Christenson, Holly Nance, Danielle Paulk, Landon Snooks, Richie Socia, Larry Spradley, Hannah Steese, Cody Warnock, Aaron Willis and Emily Woods. These 12 students will be participating in a seven-month program where they will hear from various Christian leaders in our community on how to effectively lead, specifically from the Christian perspective.  

The kickoff banquet for the CLA was held Sept. 1 at the Effingham YMCA. Guest speaker for the night was Randy Bugos, CEO of the Coastal YMCA of Georgia. Bugos challenged the students with many principles of leadership that should be a part of every Christian leader’s life.  

He asked the students to define a good Christian and then asked them to define a good leader and illustrated how the two lists can be paralleled in many ways.  Other speakers who will be addressing  these students in the coming months are: Jason Pridgen, Mose and Dale Mock, state Rep. Jon Burns, Ann Purcell, Rev. Jeff Rollins, Harry Shearouse and Talbert Edenfield.  

“We are off to a great start and we look forward to empowering these students with the principals necessary to develop them into great Christian leaders,” said Kim Dennis, executive director of the Effingham YMCA.  

Each student participating will receive a one-year free membership to the YMCA and will volunteer for 20 hours of service to the YMCA over a period of seven months, in whatever program or event that they choose. At the end of the program, they will be presented with a special award.