ADVENTURES BEYOND THE OFFICE

By Robert Krimmer

Last February, A to Z law partner John Mathews mentioned that he would be speaking at a leadership conference in Los Angeles. I wondered out loud if there was a local leadership program through which I might explore leadership issues and expand my involvement in the community. John and I did a quick online search and discovered “Leadership Ventura,” a two-year leadership training program offered through the City of Ventura Chamber of Commerce. With the support of A to Z Law, I applied for and was accepted into the Leadership Ventura program. The 2012-2013 leadership class consists of twenty diverse individuals from varying business backgrounds – I am the only attorney.

The Leadership Ventura experience begins with a two-day leadership training retreat conducted by Dr. Relly Nadler, founder of True North Leadership, Inc. and a world-class executive coach. During the two-day retreat, each participant takes a Myers-Briggs Personality Test, the results of which are evaluated by Dr. Nadler. Based on test results, the class is divided into four separate Project Teams, each tasked with conceptualizing and implementing a public service project to be completed within seven to eight months. The “twist” is that Dr. Nadler hand-picks each team member so that teams are composed of differing personality-types. There is method to this madness because leadership skills are best honed in a crucible filled with individuals who, by virtue of their core personality traits, by virtue of their core personality traits, approach problem-solving in dramatically different ways.

Once a month our class meets with Dr. Nadler for ongoing leadership training. Following Dr. Nadler’s training sessions, the class embarks on a “field trip” focusing on various public and private organizations throughout Ventura County and their respective leaders. We explore challenges facing the county in the arenas of public safety, commerce, economic development, tourism, media and communications, the arts, agriculture, government, and the court system, to name just a few. Outside of monthly leadership training and field days, members of each project team meet to plan and implement their community service projects.

Through the Ventura Leadership program, our project team became aware of the River Haven Community. River Haven is a joint effort by the City of Ventura and the Turning Point Foundation to transition individuals from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The River Haven Community consists of twenty dome-like shelters located on City of Ventura land adjacent to the Santa Clara River. The domes were purchased and constructed through local volunteerism. Unless painted with a special (and costly) protective coating, the material from which the domes are constructed deteriorates in the presence of ultra-violet light. For the past three years, the Turning Point Foundation tried to paint the domes but, for one good reason or another, the painting never happened and the domes were beginning to show early signs of deterioration.

Aware of the immediate need to paint the River Haven shelters, our project team committed to making the required painting a reality. The team began meeting regularly with Clyde Reynolds, founder of the Turning Point Foundation. With Clyde’s assistance, our project team secured funding, arranged for the donation of equipment and supplies, recruited a group of painting contractors to professionally apply the required base-coat and protective coating and coordinated on-site preparation with the River Haven Community. On September 7 the River Haven domes were given a new lease on life.

As in any community volunteer effort, there are many generous individuals and companies to thank. Glidden Professional Paint in Oxnard donated the protective coating for the domes. Anna Borja, Glidden’s store manager, helped our team identify professional painting contractors. David Atkin Construction, Dawson Painting, Hernandez Painting, Lozano Painting and Maxson Painting generously volunteered labor and equipment. Ventura Rentals donated gas generators to power the paint spraying equipment. Dominos Pizza provided lunch. MidTown Kitchens, Fox Fine Jewelry, Jimmy’s Slice, Red Brick Gallery, Ventura Improv, Santa Paula Theater Company, Ventura County Museum, Zoey’s and Island Packers contributed to our team’s fund-raising effort. Finally, the residents and site manager at River Haven pitched in by power-cleaning the domes and prepping the River Haven grounds.

Even the weather cooperated. A heavy morning fog or drizzle would have spelled disaster for our project, but paint day was “three bear perfect” – not too hot, not too cold … but just right; and I guess “just right” aptly describes the feeling that filled the hearts of all who volunteered to make the River Haven Painting Project a success.

Robert Krimmer is an associate at Oxnard based Arnold Bleuel LaRochelle Mathews & Zirbel.

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