First All-Online Getting Ahead Class Graduates

posted 8/22/20 -- LCCAA’s latest Getting Ahead class was literally delivered from facilitator Amy Steele’s kitchen table and it was a rousing success.

Three Lorain County women graduated from the agency’s first all online class after in-person classes had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I could not have asked for three better women to start this class,” said Client Services Coordinator Steele, who admitted to feeling nervous about the new delivery method. “I wanted to make sure you got 100 percent of what the program is.”

Each of the women were mailed a certificate of completion and a gift card for lunch in lieu of an in person graduation party. As they did for the eight weeks of the class, the group met by Zoom to recap and congratulate one another. They also received well wishes from other members of LCCAA’s staff.

Planning and Community Services Director Frank Prihoda thanked the ladies for their perfect attendance, as well as their perseverance as the first online group.

“Thank you for completing all this and sticking with it,” he said. “It was a good showing that things can work virtually.”

“Getting Ahead is a program that we truly believe in,” said President and CEO Jackie Boehnlein. “We know good things are coming for you.”

Getting Ahead typically meets in person using a ‘kitchen table’ style group setting. Participants delve deeply into their lives to find strengths and identify their resources. With the pandemic ongoing, Steele conducted the class while working remotely from home as so many Americans have been doing.

The ten module curriculum helps the group explore solutions to a variety of issues. Students learn about accountability, analyze their situations, assess their own resources and choose a plan of action.

Melissa said anger held her back but examining her life and accepting her circumstances have made her more relaxed and calm.

“As I learned more about poverty, I learned why my life was this way,” she said, noting she battles some health issues. “My goals are for what not to do rather than what to do. Manage my finances and my medication.”

Christine appreciated the online format of the class because she lives 45 minutes from where the in person class is normally held. She is ready to work toward her bachelor’s degree and has already enrolled in her first classes at Lorain County Community College.

“It’s a great program and I’ll definitely share it with all my friends,” she said, noting that complacency was her biggest obstacle.

Brittainy works for LCCAA as a Family Service Worker in the Head Start program. She looks forward to bringing first hand recommendations to her Head Start families, especially about how many resources can be found in the community.

“My biggest take away was really recognizing the obstacles that I thought I had and things that I thought were mountains,” she said. “And realizing there is a lot of help in this area to help me climb those mountains.”

Brittainy also plans to start working on her bachelor’s degree.

Since the class was the first one held online, LCCAA’s other trained Getting Ahead facilitators Colette Park and Nancy Ann Smith also participated. The agency hopes each facilitator can have an online class running soon.

Park, LCCAA’s first Getting Ahead graduate, said the transformation the program creates is “extraordinary.” Smith praised the three women and their eagerness and resilience saying, “You three did a great job of amazing me.”

Steele found it hard to say goodbye to the group, she said, but reminded them they are now part of the LCCAA Getting Ahead family. They are welcome to contact her anytime they need help with anything and are encouraged to stay in touch through email and the group’s private Facebook page. After the pandemic, Steele said she plans to host an in person celebration for all of the agency’s Getting Ahead graduates.

LCCAA is actively enrolling for the next set of Getting Ahead classes. If you have questions or are ready to sign up, contact Steele at 440-204-3121 or [email protected]