Updates from the Strength Builder Series

Last night, I stood outside the door of Gather’s Downtown office as the doorwoman letting Class Four participants into the building. While this was a small task, it was one of greater unexpected pleasure.  I watched as some participants sailed through the front doors with a great sense of self-confidence, while others more hesitantly tiptoed their way into the building.  Each participant was on their way to their fourth Strength Builder Series workshop, where they were challenged to share a “pitch” to the rest of their peers.

The “pitch” was an assignment from the previous class. Each participant was to offer their classmates and UnBoundRVA staff a well-rehearsed three minute presentation on a topic of their choosing.  The final participant’s arrival into the room culminated in a melting pot of nerves, anticipation, and unadmitted excitement as speeches began. The class worked diligently for the past two weeks, and with each passing pitch, I was as equally captivated as I was impressed by the commitment they had to this assignment and to supporting one another.

A speech highlighting Petersburg’s food desserts was thought-provoking, while a speech discussing discipline was motivating. A presentation discussing the importance of reading early and often was informative, while a presentation promoting hope in times of despair was inspiring. Each pitch delivered by every individual was meaningful and impactful in its own unique way. The pitches lasting only 180 seconds, and some repetitive phrases lasting only five, left me to lay in bed that night pondering everything from how I need to be disciplined enough to wake up with my first morning alarm, to how I can budget enough money to go on safari ride in Kenya soon, and even to how I want to be buried (hopefully not soon!).

Not only were the pitches themselves unique and incredible, but they were especially so as they represented how Class Four has practiced the skills that have been reviewed over the past three months of the Strength Builder Series Workshop.

Class Four learned about UnBoundRVA norms and expectancies, but they exceeded our “Metrics of Success” last night. Each participant fully committed to stepping outside of their comfort zones, remained accountable to themselves and one another in completing this assignment, provided honest feedback to others, and gave 110% percent of themselves and their passions to this project.

The insight from directors of both Dress for Success and Goodwill Job Readiness who visited during the second workshop, Shantell Malachi and Shawn Smith, showed through as each participant arrived on-time and professionally dressed.

Finally, the class took note of the business pitches that UnBoundRVA entrepreneurs, including Clarence Bassett, John Eshler, and Royal McCargo, presented during Workshop Three. They molded their favorite aspects of their pitch into one that reflected their own personalities.

The personal flairs of Class Four showed through last night, and I cannot wait to see that continue into the second half of our Strength Builder Series.

Next stop is the Capital One Financial literacy workshops, and Class Four is moving full steam ahead into October. Stay tuned for more Strength Builder Series updates!



–Lindsay Palmisano

About the Blogger: Lindsay is a Cleveland native and 90s age fanatic whose unfamiliarity with smart phones dates her back to the stone ages. She can be found exploring Richmond or getting lost in it, and is frequently spotted using printed Mapquest directions. Lindsay will meet with others over iced black coffee at any hour of the day, and her preference for coffeehouse conversations includes social justice issues, haphazard traveling, and Pinterest DIY projects and recipes.

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