Leadership Centre County was founded in 1991 to help develop community leaders by bringing diverse individuals together for networking, education and exposure to community issues, opportunities and needs.
The LCC experience has an immediate, positive effect on the participants, their organizations and the community. Each person is better informed and more skilled in active community leadership, which is seen through graduates as they become leaders in Centre County.
“Leadership Centre County had been trying to figure out how to incorporate a class project for some years. The idea for the Juntos emerged as the demand for participation in LCC went up — resulting in bigger class sizes,” LCC Executive Director Georgia Abbey said. “We saw this as a way to ensure bonding amongst class members and as a way to get community projects done — it’s working.”
Each year, LCC accepts applicants for a yearlong program and organizes monthly sessions that inform the participants in matters such as Centre County history, health and human services, arts and education and governance. The members are divided into groups, referred to as “Juntos,” and they develop and execute a community service project with the members in that group.
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The term “Juntos,” which means “to join,” was first used by Benjamin Franklin in 1727.
He founded a club for mutual improvement that would organize meetings around a series of questions, covering a range of intellectual, personal, business and community topics. These questions were used to initiate discussion, which led to community action.
Some of the concepts that resulted in Franklin’s Junto meetings were volunteer firefighting, security night watchmen and a public hospital.
LCC first assigned five Juntos in 2016 who completed projects for Penns Valley Youth Center, Housing Transitions and the Pennsylvania Military Museum, among others.
The 2017 Juntos, also five groups, dedicated their time to serving the Big Brothers Big Sisters, Housing Transitions and Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association.
Michelle Holt, a member of “The No Vowel Peas Prize” Junto during 2017, said her group was responsible for collecting donations and assembling bags for the “Be Bag Project,” which is committed to positively affecting children in transitional housing in the community. The Juntos project supported Housing Transitions, which provides temporary housing for families.
Holt described the experience as “sobering” and said her group selected their project because it was a tangible way of giving to the community.
We are now accepting applications for our Community Leadership Program, Class of 2019. To learn more and to apply, visit www.leadershipcentrecounty.org.
Aubree Rader is a Penn State student and LCC’s public relations intern.