‘We have hope now’ A Getting Ahead story

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‘We have hope now’ A Getting Ahead story

‘I’m feeling down. My income is too low and my bills are keeping me up all night. My wife is not well, sometimes she feels like hell and she gets anxious and blames herself for the mess we are in. We used to feel empowered, now we are just thankful to make it another day. Is this what life is supposed to be like???’

These heartbreaking words are from Getting Ahead graduate Sal Girgenti who wrote a poem, “My Life Now,” during his very first GA session last year. The Indian Trail resident heard about our economic empowerment work group while receiving food at one of our evening pantries. It took two times – several years apart – before he decided to apply.  

“The first time I heard about it, I thought ‘it sounds good’ but then I talked myself out of applying and just never made time for it,” he said. “When I heard about it for the second time – a couple years later- I decided I had to try because nothing had changed for us and we were in even deeper debt. To be honest with you, it’s one of those things I thought ‘If I continue to do the same things my life isn’t going to be any different.’ ”

Sal’s wife was diagnosed with chronic medical issues several years ago which means she can no longer work and though Sal went back to school to get his real estate license and began working as a substitute teacher and math tutor, his income hasn’t been enough to keep up with their bills, including high medical expenses. 

“I had to borrow from Peter to pay Paul and before I knew it I got myself into a financial mess,” he said. 

But that was then…this is NOW! Since Getting Ahead, Sal has secured a stable part-time job as a math tutor and has been able to connect with other local resources to help reduce his debt and help with overdue utility bills. Most importantly, life is looking much brighter for him and his wife. 

“A lot of stress and worry is starting to subside. We have hope now,” he said. “I really can see myself improving. Getting Ahead has helped me to not be afraid to ask for help. I’ve realized that asking for help is not something that is bad and it’s not something that needs to be permanent.” 

Time management skills, Sal said, is one of the most important things he gleaned from his GA sessions. 

“One of the biggest takeaways for me was learning how to manage my time and realizing how much time I was not utilizing in a productive manner,” he said. “I was sitting around worrying how to pay my bills this month and before you know it you get sidetracked, you get online and you’re getting nowhere fast. Then I would turn on the TV as a distraction and then the day is gone.” 

That’s not what his life looks like now! 

“I now know that not giving up is so important. I’m still not quite there, but I’m realizing that things will eventually get better and they’ll continue to get better,” he said. “I didn’t want Getting Ahead to end. We definitely were able to learn off of each other plus I feel like there are times where I was able to help and other times when someone else was able to help me. No one has more problems than another person, everyone just has different hurdles that they have to overcome.”

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 704-218-9060 ext. 1016 with any questions. 

If you would like to help support the GA program with financial or meal donations, call 704-218-9060 ext. 1016. Speakers are also needed to share expertise during monthly resource meetings. 


“My Life Now” by Sal Girgenti

I’m feeling down, my income is too low and my bills are keeping me up all night. 

My face is showing a frown and frozen in place, as my bank account is below 0! 

My kids are helping as much as they can, but they too have their own share of bills. 

My wife is not well, sometimes she feels like hell. She sometimes is able to help, but she gets anxious and blames herself for the mess we are in.

Yet somehow, we survive. Is this what life is supposed to be like???

Me taking retirement funds early to try to help – and taxes are eating up most of that. Fights over money are not worth a penny! 

We used to feel empowered, now we are just thankful to make it another day!

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