Ideas2Inspire was the brainchild of the energetic and dynamic Dr. Dave Urso, a Dean at Blue Ridge Community College. Dave’s idea was to develop a TED-type storytelling event for the local area that would be “local stories…local impact”. He casually put the idea out on social media and immediately had some talented entrepreneurs and local leaders offer to help make the event a reality!
The wonderful part about an event like Ideas2Inspire is that it directly benefits the community listeners. Structured like the popular TED talks, it consisted of a series of seven speakers who briefly spoke on a variety of interesting and important topics. Don Taylor, a local professor and trainer, inspired the audience with his message about overcoming failure after being unemployed for three years. Three years…could you imagine how it would feel to be out of work for three years? As the owner of Career View, a career and life coaching practice, I was pleased to help sponsor the event as it is extremely important to get that sort of message out in the community. A big part of my work with clients is dealing with the emotional and mental torture that accompanies job loss or transition. Witnessing how successful people have redefined challenges and moved forward in life inspires and encourages others to do the same.
The event was kicked off by the energetic millennial, Gordon Weirich, the Youth Director at Grace Covenant Church, who used his humor and energy in his message about the millennial generation. In my own experience of working with the college students I couldn’t agree more that their infectious energy and creativity will serve them well as they find their way in the world of work. As I viewed the members of Ideas2Inspire audience one could see that it ranged from millennials to boomers so there were stories and messages that would appeal to the wide range of listeners.
Meade Hines shared her very personal crusade of rebounding back after her bout with job loss, divorce and death of a loved one. Her message of the importance for others to be always be kind and empathic as we all deal with life’s struggles was not lost on deaf ears. What made Meade’s story especially poignant is that she is still recovering but was courageous enough to bare her soul on stage in an attempt to help others. Her shirt was emblazed with the word “hope” as she bravely spoke to the audience about her challenges.
The program was hosted and moderated by the humorous and delightful local talent of J.R. Snow whose clothing changes and antics in itself were something to observe! Not a stranger to the stage himself, J.R. masterfully facilitated the speakers and he wove together the fabric of the event! Stories ranged from Indigo Eriksen’s message of living and serving in Guatemala and Mexico to L. Miguel Wells courageous tale of successful enculturating into the Shenandoah Valley from his native country.
It was obvious to me that one thing that makes the Shenandoah Valley unique is how endearing the area is to its people. A community is only as good as its collective members. This message was reiterated by the husband/wife team of Brent and Laura Toni-Holsinger as they shared their tag team story of adjustment to life in the valley while staying true to their strong ideals of serving the community! As a native of Harrisonburg, I have always felt that the entire Shenandoah Valley area has a very strong sense of community and hope that events of this nature continue to help area residents and strengthen the community. As a Career and Life Coach, I hope that other localities will attempt to offer similar events as we all strive to make this world a better place!