‘Truly, truly thankful’

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‘Truly, truly thankful’

After Carl Blakeley was diagnosed with a terminal illness more than 2 years ago, he thought his life was over. He even contemplated suicide several times. 

“My work ceased. Everything about me ceased after that diagnosis,” he said. “I was struggling for a year with no money, no resources, all the medical bills, and everything was coming down. Then, thanks to my pastor, I found Common Heart and the Getting Ahead program. If it wasn’t for God & Common Heart, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m truly, truly thankful.” 

Carl, a Getting Ahead graduate who has also served as a co-facilitator, said his challenges aren’t over, but thanks to GA his life has changed drastically for the better. During the 18-session Getting Ahead program, participants like Carl discuss 11 resources that we each need to thrive: financial, emotional, mental/cognitive, language, social capital, physical, spiritual, integrity & trust, motivation & persistence, relationships/role models and knowledge of hidden rules. Poverty isn’t just about money, but it is often the first thing people think of when talking about instability. 

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

“I’ve learned so much in the last two years that it just blows my mind,” he said. “I still struggle but I’ve got the resources, I’ve got the support, and I’ve got the encouragement. The people in these GA sessions have become family to me.”

As a co-facilitator for our most recent GA session, Carl has found a new purpose in helping others. 

“I feel people’s pain because I’ve been there and if I can help people smile, if I can give them hope just for one minute in their lives, it’s worth everything that I do,” he said. “You don’t know what people are going through. You don’t know where people have been. I’ve been judged all my life that I wasn’t going to amount to anything. But here I am.”

If you think you would benefit from Getting Ahead, apply online at Getting Ahead – Common Heart. Participants receive a $35 Wal-Mart gift card plus free dinner and free childcare (if needed) for every session they attend. Graduates have the opportunity to receive free life coaching and earn $500 deposited into a bank account through our Emergency Savings Incentive Plan (ESIP). Call Ruth Wilson at 704-875-7887 with any questions. 

If you would like to help support the GA program with financial or meal donations, call Grace Lotharp at 704-684-9007. Speakers are also needed to share expertise during monthly resource meetings.

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