Getting Ahead grads continuing journey out of poverty

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Getting Ahead grads continuing journey out of poverty

Applications being accepted for next sessions

James Levee heard about Common Heart’s Getting Ahead focus/empowerment group at a mobile food pantry when he was there getting food for his family. They’re “facing some issues right now” and needed the food to be able to make ends meet, he said. 

He didn’t know what to expect or even if the workgroup would help. He quickly got his answer – YES! 

“I must admit I was a bit skeptical before my first meeting that I would learn anything new or useful, but boy was I wrong,” he said. “Getting Ahead is a wonderfully informative program.”

James was one of 5 people who celebrated the completion of Getting Ahead last week with a graduation celebration. They chose a Hawaiian theme complete with dinner. These graduates are now leaders in Common Heart’s Advocates for Change group where they will receive ongoing friendship, support and training. 

They are also eligible for six months of free professional life coaching services to help them achieve their goals. The organization’s innovative Emergency Savings Incentive Program also allows them to earn a $500 emergency savings account as they build skills needed for success. 

James, who spoke at last week’s Getting Ahead graduation, compared the 18-session journey to being in a life raft together with no land in sight but they knew they had to work together to survive. That’s his biggest take away from the workshop – the greatest resources in life are those around you. 

“The one thing shared by those in all walks of life is our need, our reliance on social connection,” he said. “Through Getting Ahead I learned I haven’t used the resources I have to the fullest benefit. I have some connections with people that I hadn’t tried to utilize.”

All graduates leave the workgroup with a plan in place and access to professional life coaching to help make it happen. James said his biggest goal is to expand his “social capital,” or connections with people in the community. He’s looking toward employment options and other ways to supplement his income.  

Common Heart is accepting applications for the next Getting Ahead sessions, which start in May. Participants can earn up to $425 in Wal-Mart gift cards and free dinner and childcare are provided with each session. More information and an application is available at

Questions? Email or call 704-218-9060 ext. 1009. 

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