Group Overcomes to Get Ahead

posted 1/15/21 -- A French philosopher once said “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

The latest group of Getting Ahead graduates earned a level of glory well-above average for overcoming the obstacles they faced to complete the program.

For starters, they were all homeless. The group formed at the Haven Center with the help of Gloria Olivencia, Director of Shelter and Outreach. The all online group started in the fall with 10 participants working on borrowed laptops in a common room at the shelter while social distancing. They quickly gelled.

“They are really looking and reflecting on themselves - mapping out their own life and really looking at how they got where they are,” Gloria said, adding that watching the group was like watching flowers bloom.

Begun online because of COVID-19, the group would continue to grapple with the virus. With just two classes left, COVID came to the Haven Center and group members were dispersed to hotels to wait for the all clear. Heartbreakingly, the virus claimed one of the members, Elizabeth Johnson, age 53.

“In every Getting Ahead group, there is an element of sharing personal experience that is truly priceless as investigators tell about what worked for them or didn’t work,” said Nancy Ann Smith, who facilitated the group for LCCAA. “Elizabeth was more outgoing, so she led the way in reflecting on her own experience. The facilitator being willing to share is never as valuable as their peers.”

Getting Ahead groups meet regularly and discuss a wide variety of items from Ruby Payne and Phil DeVol’s book Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World. Books and materials are free to participants. Discussions include finances, planning for changes, time management, how to negotiate and much more.

Elizabeth particularly liked the group’s use of the term “investigators,” she said in an early meeting.

“It brings it to a different level of understanding,” she said. “It makes me want to stay involved.”

Nancy Ann said Elizabeth’s completion certificate will be presented to her family as a keepsake.

Certificates were also presented to Gloria, who hopes to train as a facilitator, Gary, Antoinette and June.

Gary said the group helped him open up. He was always early for meetings and helped set up computers and provided eager assistance to his new friends.

“I jumped in with both feet and loved it ever since,” he said.

June found the program transformative.

“I never thought anyone had it worse than me,” she said. “This has helped me grow in lots of ways. It’s never too late to change.”

New groups are now forming for the program which will be all online. Contact Amy Steele at 440-204-3121 or [email protected] if you have questions or are ready to sign up.