By Emily Olesh
When I was first given the opportunity to attend Focus Louisville, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was I was going to spend two and a half days exploring Louisville, meeting people and eating a free lunch or two. While I did get to do all of that (and more), I graduated Focus Louisville with something much bigger and rewarding than I expected. I developed a new love and passion for the city of Louisville.
Growing up in Southern Indiana, my family and I crossed the bridge to go back-to-school shopping or attend a family Christmas party, and that was about it. I actually tried to avoid crossing over the river because of the dreaded traffic and for fear of getting lost. Since I began working at RunSwitch PR and commuting to Louisville every day, I have developed a greater respect for Louisville because Focus Louisville reminded me what a great city it is.
While Focus Louisville was a short two and a half days, I felt like we spent a whole week digging deep inside of the city…only to learn that was just the beginning of how much it had to offer!
From getting an exclusive tour of historic downtown Louisville; exploring the unfamiliar territory of the West End; exploring backstage at the Performing Arts Center, eating lunch with a JCPS student; visiting one of the largest parks; to learning about some of the many non-profits that serve within the city limits, Focus Louisville was an incredibly eye-opening experience.
I learned about things I never imagined or even knew existed in Louisville and was able to learn about people who are inspired to make a difference in other people’s lives. For example, the superintendent of JCPS has an amazing vision and passion for students all over the area. Our tour guide at The Healing Place opened up about her experience and helped us understand the meaning of supporting each other through rough times.
I learned new facts about this city that I won’t forget. Did you know that there are 600 workers behind the scenes at Churchill Downs? And that The House of Ruth not only provides treatment for HIV patients but also, support for their families? There is so much to learn about the 3,000 non-profits in Louisville and the school system and they could all use a helping hand from us.
By the same token, the vision our city leaders have for Louisville from an economic development standpoint is motivating, promising and exciting. Learning about the different numbers and figures behind our economy and workforce helped me better understand what kind of a market Louisville is for newcomers. I am thrilled to see how Louisville will develop over the next five years and cannot wait to see the difference it makes for our great city.
Focus Louisville is something that everyone, native-Louisvillian or not, should experience. I was fortunate enough to have met some great, motivated people who are driven to make Louisville even greater than it is today. I plan to join them in making a difference.
Thank you, Focus Louisville, for helping me realize that there is much, much more to Louisville than shopping malls or family Christmas parties. I commend Leadership Louisville for dedicating this program to focusing on different aspects of this city. It opened my eyes to see how many people are devoted and passionate about making a difference. Louisville is often called a “best-kept secret.” After attending Focus Louisville, I am committed to making sure more people know about our city and inviting outsiders to learn more about a place that I am passionate about and have grown to love.