When Tacara Howard walked into her first Getting Ahead group session she was “heavy hearted.” Still grieving the loss of her Mom, she had just gotten out of a bad relationship, was homeless, unemployed and sleeping in her car. This single Mom of two boys, ages 9 & 14, said she was “about to give up.”
But then Getting Ahead started. Tacara was one of 8 women who celebrated the completion of Getting Ahead last month with a graduation celebration.These graduates are now leaders in our Advocates for Change group where they will receive ongoing friendship and support.
“The moment I walked through the door I knew it was different, Tacara said. “I was trying a lot of different things to get back on track but until Getting Ahead nothing seemed to be working. I felt like I was back at square one so I thought ‘why not give something new a try?’ I’m so glad I did. Getting Ahead saved my life. It couldn’t have come at a better time, I promise you.”
During the next several months of Getting Ahead Tacara connected with other women, including our GA facilitators, who knew exactly what she was going through because they’re also challenged by poverty. They laughed and cried together. They examined poverty in their own lives and in our community and learned a lot about themselves in the process.
Tacara said it was so inspiring to “be able to meet so many different women from different walks of life and see that I’m not alone. Even though we came through the doors with our different battles, we were still pushing, we were still fighting and looking for a better way. When we have no one to turn to, no one to call on we found a place that was like ‘Hey, I see you. I see your need, I generally want to help and I understand your struggle and it’s going to be OK’. They wanted to give us a better way, a different way.”
Now, she’s employed in quality assurance at a local mattress manufacturing company and has found a place to live with a friend while she saves up to find a rental property. She’s better able to care for her boys who, she said, have had a “front row seat” to these struggles.
“After Getting Ahead, I really bounced back. If only you could see me before, I really did come back. I came all the way back,” she said. “I felt like I could just breathe for the first time, it felt like I could feel the sun and wind for the first time. I was just worrying about so much and so stressed about my situation.”
Tacara has three goals she’s working on: emotional health, getting healthy with her eating and working towards home ownership. To set her and her fellow graduates on the path to stability, the next steps in Common Heart’s Economic Empowerment program include six months of free professional life coaching services. Additionally,our innovative Emergency Savings Incentive Program allows them to earn a $500 emergency savings account as they build skills needed for success.
It’s great to have the support of friends, and the tools that Common Heart provides. Thanks to the support of the Common Heart community Tacara now has tools to build resources to make a better life for her family.
“I’m not saying there won’t be bumps in the road, but this time we have a better way. Life will be better and I know this journey will get better from here,” she said.
For more information about Getting Ahead, visit: Getting Ahead – Common Heart.