Writer: Roger Nielsen
City and county government supervisors scrubbed and painted a homeless shelter in their northwest Georgia community recently, putting into practice the leadership and teamwork skills they learned in the Institute of Government’s Management Development Program (MDP).
The 21 members of the Northwest Regional MDP class helped prepare temporary housing for women and children in the City of Rome while fulfilling the course’s service-learning component.
Participants chose the Ruth and Naomi Project Homeless Shelter for Women and Children as the class project from among seven nominees because it would have the biggest impact on the community, according to MDP graduate Amanda Carter, director of the Rome Downtown Development Authority.
Class members organized two work days to repair, clean and paint a house that the Ruth and Naomi Project bought in May for a women and children’s homeless shelter. The MDP participants — all employees of Floyd County or Rome, the county seat — also collected toiletries and other supplies from their office colleagues to donate to the shelter.
Floyd County hosts the Northwest Regional MDP, though the Institute of Government holds MDP courses throughout the state. The nationally recognized 20-day leadership development program helps government managers strengthen skills like self-awareness, collaboration and process improvement, according to Institute faculty member Chrissy Marlowe, lead instructor for the Northwest Regional MDP.
“The entire class does a community service project, and as they go through the project they need to be aware of the topics they learned in class,” Marlowe said.
Carter said members of the Northwest Georgia MDP utilized skills they studied in class to plan, organize and execute the homeless shelter project. For example, class members needed communication and conflict management skills to arrange work days that fit into every members’ schedule, she said.
“We could apply something we learned in every day of class to this project,” Carter said.
In addition to putting principles into action, class members established a vital network to facilitate additional collaboration between the county and city governments, Carter said.
“This has really changed our working relationships within the city and the county,” she said.
Class members’ work helped get the building ready to house eight single women and four women with children, according to the Rev. Devon Goddard Smyth, the shelter’s executive director.
“They helped clean the entire kitchen, they helped paint a bunch of stuff. It’s just been amazing,” Smyth said.