Getting Ahead graduates starting their journey out of poverty

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Getting Ahead graduates starting their journey out of poverty

Applications being accepted for next sessions

Our Getting Ahead empowerment focus groups meet people where they are — among all types of situations. For Angie Merritt, Getting Ahead was a “safe place” to be and meet new friends as she recovers from a drug addiction. 

“It was a comfortable place and a place where I felt peace and friendship,” she said. “There was accountability there — I (wanted) to be there and be on time. I felt understood too. I felt like I fit in for the first time in a long time.” 

Angie was one of 5 women who celebrated the completion of Getting Ahead last week with a graduation celebration. They chose the theme “Fall out of Poverty into a Season of Prosperity” and decided to make it a cowboy theme complete with dinner. These graduates are now leaders in our Advocates for Change group where they will receive ongoing friendship and support. 

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

Angie first heard about Getting Ahead from a friend who got a flyer at Common Heart’s food pantry at Wingate Baptist Church. The Wal-Mart gift card incentive got her attention but wasn’t the real drive to get her to apply. Those gift cards have come in handy though — she’s used them to get gas and Christmas gifts for her grandkids. 

“The gift cards sounded good, but it was something positive and I was in a time of my life where I needed something positive,” she said. “I learned that it’s OK to be honest. There are a lot of people like me and I don’t struggle alone. I’m learning patience and to take it one step at a time.” 

Common Heart is accepting applications for the next Getting Ahead sessions, which start in mid-January. Participants can earn up to $425 in Wal-Mart gift cards. More information and an application is available at

Questions? Email or call 704-218-9060 ext. 1008. 

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