Getting Ahead Programs

Graduation Stories

This topic contains 2 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Irene Frechette 4 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #607

    Irene Frechette

    Tom Pelger shares another success story – 2nd graduation class for the Peoria Getting Ahead Program

    Our local NBC affiliate WEEK (Ch 25) came to our 2nd Getting Ahead graduation last night. We got good coverage on last nights 10 pm news and this morning’s 5 / 6 am news programs. Thanks for all your contributions to the class and to supporting the investigators / graduates towards their future stories.

  • #618

    Irene Frechette

    Spirituality, Empowerment, Mentoring, Advocacy, Inclusion, Collaboration, Social Capital

    Society of St. Vincent de Paul
    Tucson Diocesan Council
    June 2, 2016

    Getting Ahead Graduation
    Program number Two: Tucson, Arizona
    By Christine Krikliwy

    Nine single Moms, who felt that life had dealt them a bad hand were interviewed and recruited to the “Getting Ahead” program. These nine, unsure of themselves embarked on this journey amidst strangers and the unknown, led by co-facilitators Cheryl Overton and Verma Eldridge. Tom Jefferson, as chair of the Getting Ahead Committee, coordinated all aspects of the program.

    After sixteen week, they graduated, filled with hope and joy. The end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one, where they felt confident that they could implement their plans to achieve their “future story”. To celebrate their success, more than seventy people attended the graduation. Several individuals who had graduated from the previous program joined their fellow graduates to celebrate their success.

    One of the co-facilitator, Cheryl Overton, began each session with a spiritual reflection, which followed with an interactive discussion of their lives in relationship to the reflection. Their favorite reflection was St. Francis’ Prayer of Peace; it resonated deeply within each of them. During the first session, they read it three times, each one of them reading a different line each time. The following week they read it again and again.

    Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;
    Where there is sadness, joy.

    O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    To be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    And it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

    The spirituality moved several of the graduates, one said “I know God has a plan for me” another wanted to come back to the Church and another had her daughter make her First Communion.

    The Bishop’s visit to the program enthralled the graduates. After interacting with the Bishop, they were so moved that they requested the Bishop to bless their meal, and before the Bishop left requested a personal prayer and blessing.

    The graduates searched and reflected deeply into their lives. Each of them created a life plan and a poster board displaying their past, present and future plans. All of them spoke individually at the podium (some in public for the first time), many of them cried, sharing with us the deep meaning this program has had on their lives.

    Their children formed friendships with each other and the teachers in attendance. They ate dinner together, played games, and did homework. They looked forward to their evening at the program and the outdoor games with Bob and Joan Sicilian. Joan Grecchi worked with the children creating Mother’s Day cards for their mothers.

    As participants were recruited for the program so were Mentors. Not all mentors are Vincentians, but through the training and material provided they grow spiritually and begin to think and act like Vincentians. The mentors come from different backgrounds: teaching, social justice and business.
    They are matched up accordingly with the graduates’ needs and requirements and assist the graduate in achieving success. They accompany the graduate on their journey out of poverty. They allow them to think and act independently and navigate them through community resources. Often there is more than one mentor, especially if home visits are to be made or the mentor is unavailable. Mentors and graduates form a close relationship, and the mentor is available to the graduate at all times. Mentoring is an extremely important tool, helping the graduate implement what they have learned, making their “future plan” become a reality.
    At the graduation, I shared some wisdom from Socrates, Einstein and Churchill with the graduates. Socrates encouraged individuals to create and follow a code that focuses on what is good and true. Einstein said that the most precious things in life are free, and imagination is everything, it is a preview of life’s coming attractions. Churchill stated that success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm; therefore, never, never, never give up and always believe in yourself.

    Josefina Cardenas, a GA graduate from a previous program, gave an inspirational talk about the possibilities ahead and the contribution that the graduates can now make to their community.

    Nine single Mums, total strangers came together and after sixteen weeks, shared their graduation with each other and their families with tears of joy. During the program they bonded, were rejuvenated; and within the friendships they created they shared laughter, song and tears, and through the trust that was built could count on each other. They were blessed with hope, friendships and mentors that would last a lifetime.

    Giulio Grecchi ended the graduation ceremony with the:

    “Discernment Prayer by St. Francis Xavier Cabrini”

    My Jesus,
    I have not always recognized
    your loving plans for me.

    Every day, with the help of your light,
    I learn more of your loving care.

    Continue to increase my awareness of the gentleness of
    your loving plans.
    I want to follow the purpose
    for which I was created.
    See, I am in your hands.

    I need you to help me choose
    the best way to serve you.

    Walk with me, Jesus.
    Stay by my side and guide me! Amen


  • #643

    Irene Frechette

    St. John Providence, Catholic agencies in Detroit support anti-poverty initiative
    August 15, 2016
    Jesse Maybin and LaRenda Lauchié know they’ve made some wrong turns in life.
    Maybin, 37, survived a childhood filled with violence and abuse. He joined a gang at 11, became a father at 13 and by age 17 he was in prison for armed robbery and carjacking. Released late last year after almost 20 years, he is trying to find a path that won’t lead him back to jail and might help other young people to avoid his mistakes.

    Lauchié, 51, said she has spent “the last 35 years of my life in and out of addiction.” Her drugs of choice included marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin and cigarettes, she said, adding with a laugh, “I’m still on the cigarettes.” Clean for more than a year — “an accomplishment I had never made before” — she has a job and is studying business management with an eye toward working in the hotel or restaurant industry.
    The two are among dozens of Detroit residents finding hope for the future through Bridges to HOPE, an acronym for Helping Others Prosper through Empowerment. The program is co-sponsored by St. John Providence Health System, a part of Ascension Health; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan.

    Alberta Sullivan gestures during a discussion at a Detroit Bridges to HOPE workshop May 17.
    (Photo by: Karl Ford/Courtesy of Bridges to HOPE)
    Participants in the program are called “investigators,” because they are responsible for locating resources in the community that might help with their long-term or short-term goals. These might include a health center, a utility company, a mortgage lender, an income tax preparation service or a wide variety of other local spots.
    They report back to their fellow investigators about what they have found in terms of factual information but also on “their experience in terms of dealing in these areas,” said Cassandra Jackson, program manager for Detroit Bridges to HOPE. Those who have encountered problems might receive guidance on handling the situation differently or prompt the program leaders, called facilitators, to advocate on their behalf in the community.
    The eight-week program is made up of twice-weekly, two-hour sessions that begin with a meal. It is based on the book Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World: Building Your Resources for a Better Life by Philip E. DeVol.
    Participants receive a $25 gift card at each session, although some choose to receive the $400 total as a lump sum at the end of the course, Jackson said.
    The goals of Bridges to HOPE, according to program literature, are to “identify and solve problems in a safe and stimulating environment, complete a self-assessment of their own personal re–sources, develop a blueprint to get ahead and gather support to build resources.”
    In a city where nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, participants learn about the “hidden rules” &mdash the unspoken cues and habits — that might be preventing them from moving out of generational poverty, Jackson said.
    “We go back to the mental models of poverty and talk about … the middle class and the wealthy class,” she said. “There is a discussion about how basically our community is set up kind of in a middle-class category, and we learn how to navigate in a system that is set up that way.”
    Each participant sets his or her own short-term and long-term goals; these may include continued sobriety, raising a down payment for a new home, quitting smoking or finding work. They then investigate the specific resources that could help them reach their goals.
    But they also learn skills to help cope with what Jackson calls “the tyranny of the moment” — the unexpected obstacles that might delay achieving their goals.

    Margo Henderson, far right, addresses other “investigators” during a Detroit Bridges to HOPE workshop May 17.
    (Photo by: Karl Ford/Courtesy of Bridges to HOPE)
    “We know life happens, and even for those who are motivated, when something happens you have to prioritize,” she said. “It’s about survival,” Jackson said. “We help them to develop skills to get resources even in the midst of that.”
    Lauchié, who has completed the program and been paired with a mentor for a year of follow-up, and Maybin, who at the time he spoke to Catholic Health World was in the middle of his sessions, had already taken some of the program’s lessons to heart.
    “I want to start my own business talking to different people and sharing my story,” Maybin said. To achieve that goal, “I have to be mature, make positive decisions to not reoffend, communicate with words instead of violence, and build a support system, so that when I need help I can get some advice,” he said.
    Lauchié, who wants to work in the hospitality industry, has some short-term steps clearly in mind.
    “I want to be able to present myself appropriately,” she said. In addition to school and a job, she is doing some volunteer work, attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and has “committed myself to the church.”
    Lauchié said Bridges to HOPE “teaches you to utilize your skills and knowledge and that is priceless. It motivates you to reach for something and to do more.”

    Copyright © 2016 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
    For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

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