KRA/Waccamaw Sponsors Youth Leadership Academy

On January 8, 2013, Rusty Gaskins, KRA Business Services Representative, sent a message to Knowlton R. Atterbeary, KRA President & CEO, which read, in part: “Mr. Atterbeary, I am serving on the Procurement Committee for Youth Leadership Academy (YLA), an event that recognizes more than 425 high school sophomores for their dedication to leadership within their schools and communities. On March 11, 2013, on the campus of Coastal Carolina University [CCU], YLA will convene its 6th annual event, with a theme of Expand Your W.O.R.L.D – Wrestling Over Responsible Leadership Decisions.  The students, representing 45 schools in 9 counties, including the 3 in our KRA/Waccamaw Region, will hear from dynamic motivational speakers, and participate in hands-on activities that promote team-building, self awareness, values, communications, and community involvement.  The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce [MBACC], YLA creator, funded the first 5 years, but budget constraints now dictate that we look to the community for financial support.  I believe this would be an excellent opportunity for KRA to provide additional support for the community, ‘outside’ of the programs* we operate in the Waccamaw Region.  I hope you will consider my request to sponsor YLA, and thanks again for the opportunity to participate in Leadership Grand Strand; it has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life.” 

When asked for comment on Gaskins’ request, Atterbeary replied: “Developing Workers. Strengthening Communities. That’s not just KRA’s tagline; it is the core of our corporate vision and mission.  Today’s youth are tomorrow’s workers, and we have an obligation to support their continued development.  From what I understand, these young people were selected to attend YLA because they are already considered leaders within their schools and their communities; dedication to community service must be encouraged and nurtured at every opportunity.  In considering Mr. Gaskins’ request, the word ‘no’ never entered my mind. The only decision I had to make was ‘at what level’ would a KRA sponsorship have the most impact for the success of YLA and for the students.”  According to Gaskins, “Mr. Atterbeary’s response and level of pledge  support was great!  KRA’s sponsorship definitely contributed to the success of the conference.” 

In addition to serving on the Procurement Committee, Gaskins…a 2013 graduate of Leadership Grand Strand**…wore many hats before and during the YLA, helping to solicit event sponsorships and managing the budget; setting up orientation activities; and greeting, checking-in, directing, and distributing t-shirts to each group of students as they arrived.  Of the event itself, Gaskins stated, “Every YLA conference has attracted spectacular speakers with uplifting and motivational messages, and YLA 2013 was no exception! Distinguished speakers included Brad Dean, MBACC President & CEO and Dr. David DeCenzo, CCU President.  Marc Mero, a former Professional Wrestler and Founder of Champion of Choices, served as the Keynote Speaker, who was the perfect fit, of course, considering this year’s theme.  And to top it all off, the closing event featured a performance by ‘All That of The Carolina Opry’, the hip-hop clogging group chosen as the 2012 finalist winner of America’s Got Talent, an NBC-TV show.  At least 100 volunteers worked hard to make YLA a success, including my co-workers Stevie Griffin, Career Agent, and Kenneth McIver, Business Services Representative.  All the volunteers did a wonderful job facilitating the activities of the leadership classroom sessions.” 

KRA-YLA Volunteers Griffen, Gaskins, and McIver

* Funded by the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, this WIA program encompasses a tri-county area and provides comprehensive workforce services for Regional jobseeker-and employer-customers.  Adhering to a sector-driven strategy that targets service businesses in high-growth industries, the SCWorks Career Centers provide recruitment, screening, referral, follow-up, and retention services tailored to the needs of private- and public-sector employers in the Region. The YES component of the operation provides a comprehensive year-round program for disadvantaged ISY/OSY facing significant barriers to employment. Workplace-readiness services include interest, math, and reading assessment; GED preparation; job application and interviewing skills; and intensive career counseling. WIA services support Adult/Dislocated Workers in need of training and/or job placement opportunities.  Services include interest, aptitude, and personality assessment; skills upgrading through occupational training and OJTs; career coaching, counseling, and guidance; instructional job search technique workshops; job referral, placement and retention services; and referrals to community partnering agencies.  

** Leadership Grand Strand is responsible for planning YLA each year.  Sponsored by the MBACC, the program develops a corps of informed, committed, and qualified individuals capable of providing dynamic leadership.  The 9-month program accepts only 30 participants each year and meets monthly to work on team projects that explore topics such as historical aspects of the Grand Strand area, tourism and economic development, education and law enforcement, human services, government and politics, and the arts.  During the full-day sessions scheduled each month, participants work together with local leaders to expand their network of contacts and resources, to increase their breadth of knowledge about the community, and to develop leadership skills, including community assignments that are related to each month’s topic, and that challenge the participants to explore current issues first-hand.