South Bend Tribune

June 7, 2004

Mother, Daughter Act

Two graduate from leadership program in same year


Tribune Correspondent

Helen Price-Outlaw and her daughter, Parris Outlaw, are ready to become leaders of a community full of history.

But that's after making a little bit of history themselves.

Both recently graduated from leadership programs through the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County.

While parents and children have gone through the programs before, this is one of only a few years when both went through at the same time.

Parris said she didn't find anything special in it. She thought it was normal.

Helen and Parris

Helen, however, was more excited.

"I thought it was great -- Ooh, our own little history," she said.

Helen finished the Adult Leadership Program, while Parris, 17, a junior at Washington High School, completed the Youth Leadership Program.

Pam Newman, program director of Leadership South Bend/Mishawaka, can think of only three other times when a parent and child have gone through the programs at the same time. Newman said this experience is "insightful" when two people of the same household complete the program together.

"It's always nice when you have a partner you are able to share with, " she said.

Field trips, and in Helen's case, an actual project, helped to develop leadership skills in the participants.

Both Helen and Parris learned certain basics through the leadership programs. An emphasis on becoming a servant leader was present in both programs.

Helen and Parris both said they'd become more aware of their community and its history. The issue of diversity was also addressed.

"Everyone can bring something to the table," Helen said. "There are so many different ways to serve your community."

Both had their meetings each week on the same night throughout the nine-month program. They would often come home and compare notes.

Parris was quick to mention -- with a roll of her eyes -- that her mother told her about one field trip multiple times.

"I shared more than her," Helen admitted. "I was always 'What did you do? Did you do that?' "

Through the programs, Helen and Parris both learned a lot about South Bend and its residents. The places they visited included the Charles Martin Youth Center and local Goodwill stores.

"You really get a sense of your community when you know what was there before that building," Helen said.

Parris, whose career plans are to become a criminal defense attorney, said the program will help her with her future plans.

"It shows you how to step up and be a better leader, step out of your comfort zone and encourage others to do it, too," she said.

Despite the two graduating from the program the same year, they don't have plans to work together as leaders in the community any time in the future.

"She can work with her age group and I'll work with mine," Helen said. "She can tap into her group better than an adult. She's one of them."

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