They say you never get a chance to make a first impression…

Kiem Ho, Class 26
Director of Business Development & Innovation,
Laundry Care, Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

I have a problem with the ever seeming permanence of the “first impression”.  If life ran only on first impressions, how misguided and short would this run be?  Take me for instance, when I, seated at the back of a large congregation, saw my future wife giving a discourse from the pulpit, I immediately turned to my friend and shared my first impression: “That Caroline is pretty but she is way too serious, I would never date a girl like that”.  I cannot fathom how less complete my life would have been had my first impression not turned out so wrong.  Similarly, Scottsdale Leadership Social Services Day for Class 26 provided us all with the opportunity to build upon our respective first impressions.

Social Services Day started out with:

  • Learning the seemingly paradoxical topic of homelessness in our beautiful city from the executive director of St Joseph the Worker.  I was surprised to find how much homelessness affected everyday families. And did you know the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old.  
  • Discovering from staff who work at Vista del Camino,that poverty hits close to home with 18.6% or 1.2 million Arizonans living below the poverty line.
  • Finding out what a gem we have in the Granite Reef Senior Center! It is world renowned for its leading edge sustainable architecture and its efforts to assist seniors in getting access to disability and food benefits in a timelier manner.

As our social schooling continued, I could not help but reflect upon how incomplete my first impression was of the various social issues.  Homelessness and poverty were things that happen to “them” or that “they” had to deal with.  Instead, I learned that these issues can and do happen to “us” and that “we” ought to deal with it.  80% of homeless people don’t stand at the corner with a cardboard sign which is our first impression. They are like you and me and for whatever reason (loss of employment, death of a breadwinner, medical issue, etc); find themselves without a place to turn and without a voice to be heard.  They become the Silent Majority or even an Invisible Nation.

By the end of the day I was a bit overwhelmed.  Human services needs in Scottsdale seem insatiable when it comes to needing greater awareness, funding, engagement and even time to deal with them all.  We role-played as Human Service Commissioners and even in the short period of time a healthy appreciation of the demands and difficulty in generating funds was evident to our class.

As class 26 continues to debunk our first impressions around the issues that face Scottsdale, I hope that we can internalize “them” so that “they” become personal and our issues.  I believe our class can and will build more positive lasting impression from our experiences.

Nevertheless, how far reaching will our efforts be?  Can our efforts effectively change the many more incomplete “first impressions” out there?  I don’t know.  Do you?

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1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community

One response to “They say you never get a chance to make a first impression…

  1. Suzanne

    Beautifully said, Kiem! Thank you for your thoughtful and spot-on reflections from Social Service Day.

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