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You Do Change Lives

The reminders of how SkillsUSA changes lives are all around us this time of the year. They show up in the news stories of community service events conducted by SkillsUSA chapters such as nearly 2,000 food items donated to a food bank in Utica, N.Y., rocking horses and building blocks built and donated to Toys for Tots in Lewiston, Idaho and – after months of work by 50 students – the restoration and remodeling of the Salvation Army emergency disaster canteen truck in Painesville, Ohio so the Salvation Army can help others in need.

Sometimes the news comes in more directly. On December 21, I received an email from Mary Bell of Caterpillar and a former SkillsUSA board member to tell me about her meeting a new hire at CAT who is a SkillsUSA alumna “and totally poised just as you’d expect.” I received word on December 22 from Dan Young, a long-time supporter of SkillsUSA and formerly with the FBI, that the contractor who is building his retirement home is a SkillsUSA alumnus and state medalist in brick masonry. And, board member Marlys Bucher wrote on December 22 that the person who will be hosting the Minnesota welding contest at the state pipe fitters apprenticeship training center was a gold medal winner in 1987 in the VICA Skill Olympics. He told her that as an older, nontraditional student “it was a life-changing event . . . and I’m thrilled to be giving back to SkillsUSA.”

Of course, this tradition continues. I recently sent Jim Lentz, COO of Toyota and 2011 Champion of the Year a testimonial from Victoria Holbert, national high school president, and from other Massachusetts state officers who participated in the Champion of the Year dinner ceremonies. All of the students remarked on the positive impact they’d experienced meeting person-to-person with business leaders and how important that is for them. Victoria wrote: “This opportunity along with every other that has been offered to me through this organization has humbled me and helped me grow.” Here’s the link to see the report: www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/CEODinnerReport.pdf.

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