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Maitland City Talk

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On Friday, May 6, I was invited to attend a breakfast entitled “Central Florida, A Community with Honorable Character.” Although I wasn’t sure what the purpose of this breakfast was, the title was wonderfully intriguing to me. With the lack of integrity, respect for others, responsibility and trustworthiness that has been displayed in our country in the last decade or so, I felt drawn to this event to see what they were proposing. The depletion of these important character traits, in my opinion, is a major reason for the present economic mess that we are in today. If the senior management of major corporations like Enron, the mortgage brokers who sold a bill of goods to their trusting mortgagors, or the corrupt hedge fund operators and stockbrokers who milked their investors out of billions of dollars had been of honorable character, we may have all been in a much better financial position today.

When I arrived at the Rosen Hotel for the breakfast, I was amazed at the number of people that were there. There were easily well over 200 people in attendance. In reviewing the program agenda, I was also impressed with the people who were in support of this organization: Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Pastor of Northland Church Joel Hunter, just to name a few. There were also 20 major companies, organizations and municipalities on the Character Development Steering Committee, including Walt Disney World, Orlando Magic and Lockheed Martin. With all of these high-powered people and organizations supporting this event, I was even more curious and encouraged to know more about what they were trying to accomplish. Obviously, they too saw a great need for change. As the program progressed, I began to understand why there was such wonderful support for this organization.

Originally, their main focus was to promote honorable character development in our schools but as their vision evolved, they decided to expand this character development to all aspects of our society including all types of businesses, organizations and municipalities, as well as individuals, families and neighborhoods. Their goals are: (1) to encourage, facilitate and coordinate the adoption of community-based, character development initiatives in all sectors of our community, and (2) to build a network for sharing information and ideas regarding character programs, concepts and implementation with organizations countywide.

Their mission is: (1) to establish and maintain an alliance among representatives of our communities who are involved in character development initiatives; and (2) to foster a common language of character, so that everyday displays of character development traits may be recognized, discussed and supported across community boundaries. They have 10 character development trait initiatives, which are promoted with the months of the year. They are: (1) Respect – January; (2) Caring – February; (3) Self-discipline – March; (4) Perseverance – April; (5) Trustworthy – May; (6) Integrity – June and July; (7) Positive Attitude – August; (8) Citizenship – September; (9) Cooperation – October; and (10) Responsibility – November and December.

As speaker after speaker came to the podium to express their support and share their inspiring experiences, I realized that this was an organization that myself and our city needed to be a part of and do everything possible to help promote the honorable character that is so desperately needed in our society. Since then I am proud to say that the city of Maitland is now a member of the Character Development Steering Committee. I attended my first Steering Committee meeting on May 25 and am in the process of developing an honorable character-building plan to share with our community. Our City Council and city staff have already given me wonderful support, but we also need the support of our citizens if this is to become a success in our community, and I feel confident that we can count on that support.

The way that we treat others through showing respect and caring is so vitally important to how we live our lives, especially by setting a good example for our youth. Having a positive attitude toward life, being responsible to others as well as ourselves and having integrity in all that we do are also vitally important. The slogan that they have developed is “Change begins with me.” I am committing myself to make that change. If you haven’t already, I am asking you to join me. If you too want to get involved and are interested in becoming a part of this inspiring organization, please contact Keith Baber at 407-317-3200 extension 2330 or at keith.baber@ocps.net