Celebrating Ten Years Since the Double LFS Class of 2009

Jun 10, 2019

After the most devastating natural disaster in Cedar Rapids history, there was a heightened need to infuse the community with leaders that would help in ushering in a chapter of recovery. Leadership for Five Seasons was ready to be a vehicle to supply community leaders.

"We had a historic number of applicants that year. Interviews had to be conducted offsite, due to water in our building at the time," said Kris Gulick, LFS Program Director during the Class of 2009. With such a qualified group of applicants paired with an extreme need for leaders in the community, the LFS Board ultimately made the decision to run two classes consecutively.

"We absolutely felt the gravity of being in the double class, fondly dubbed the ‘flood babies’ by some involved in the program at the time. There was a sense of urgency surrounding our involvement in the program and the need to swiftly do something with it as immediately as we could," said Casey Prince, Class of 2009 graduate.

Logistics of the class proved challenging. Shuffling 70 people around the city is no easy task. To create a more manageable system for class members and LFS program planners, the class was split into two groups, named Catalyst and Intel. While they all experienced the same activities on the same day, they completed the activities at different times during each class day. The two groups ensured all class members had a similar experience.

As with every LFS class, the program concluded with a project day. The Class of 2009 selected the obvious need in the community: flood cleanup. There was no lack of work to be done around the city. Class member Julie Stow found herself mucking out a home in New Bohemia.

"It was hard, dirty work and extremely heartbreaking and impactful. The family had lost everything, so they just left it all behind. Kids toys, photos…there was laundry still in the washing machine. At the end of the day we had filled several dump trucks with destroyed items and drywall from inside the home. It created a lasting memory of why flood control plays such a critical role for the success of our city. I don’t want a family or business to ever have to experience that again."

After the program finished there were 70 leaders eager to get out in the community to help with recovery. Inspired by his LFS experience, Leighton Smith joined the board at Legion Arts, a nonprofit in New Bohemia, shortly after graduation to help with working through post-flood challenges.

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