Getting Ahead Program Making a Difference

“Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World,” a collaborative program of the Talbot County Department of Social Services (TCDSS) and Talbot Family Network (TFN), enters its second year with new community sessions starting September 4 and running through November 27. The program allows participants to explore the impact that poverty and low wages have and what it takes to move from just getting by, to getting ahead and realizing the future that they really want.

Bruce Bennett (left), Kenneth Wayne Phillips Jr., and Thomas Griffin, all graduates of the Mid-Shore Fresh Start, recently participated in the “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World” program.

According to Cawaina Friend, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World Facilitator, “The program is not just for people in poverty, but for people who have been impacted by life’s trials. The program helps participants network with community resources and develop relationships with one another to gain financial stability and to advance their careers.”

Individuals can sign up on their own or be referred by one of the programs community partners, like Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, Talbot Interfaith Shelter, Mid-Shore Fresh Start Program, Inc., the Talbot County Department of Social Services, or the Talbot County Detention Center.

A 34-year old female who was referred to the program from Talbot Interfaith Shelter (TIS) comments, “After spending eight months at TIS and then being in their transitional apartments for three years, I decided to participate in the program. It has helped me a lot and given me confidence. I learned interviewing skills, which have helped me progress to the next step in the interviewing process for a job. I am also looking forward to attending Chesapeake College.” She adds, “The money management information was also very impactful to me.”

Participants take part in a 13-week workshop, meeting two hours a week in small groups where they have problem-solving discussions and investigations. Weekly stipends, childcare, dinner and transportation assistance are offered to participants in the program.

For a 35-year old man who was referred through the Mid-Shore Fresh Start Program, the program has helped him step outside of his comfort zone and to think outside of the box. He states, “I came from an urban environment and the culture is different on the Eastern Shore. I have learned how to network and develop relationships with people here. It has helped me grow.”

Now with a job and a vehicle and 17 months in recovery, he states, “As a recovering addict, I have learned I need other people and resources to help me in the recovery process. When I let go of things, new doors opened.”

Cawaina adds, “The program has helped people facing homelessness, illness, and even literacy issues. By the end of the program, the group is close-knit and are helping one another. It’s about gaining the knowledge and resources to get ahead.”

The “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World” program meets at the Easton Family YMCA in Easton on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. beginning on September 4. Persons interested in participating in this program or individuals or organizations wishing to refer individuals to the program should contact Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator, TCDSS, at 410-770-5870 or email paris.quillet@maryland.gov.

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