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Getting Ahead Fannin County honors spring 2024 graduates
By Cinthia Godbey, Getting Ahead Fannin County
Jun 21, 2024
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Fannin County, Texas -- Hope. It was a word repeated over and over as Getting Ahead Fannin County celebrated the graduation of their spring 2024 class. Ten participants, known as investigators, completed an eye-opening 16-week workshop for people who lack resources and were recognized for their accomplishments during the ceremony held on Sunday, June 9. They joined sixty-four others who have completed the program since 2019.

Graduate Emma shows off her certificate.

The 2024 fall graduates began their work in February with Patty Kreider facilitating their study “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting’ By World”, assisted by co-facilitator Sonya Elmore. The investigators took an in-depth look at themselves and the impact of poverty in their own lives and after a period of self-reflection, they investigated poverty in our community. The session ended with each investigator creating a personal plan, based on his or her goals and dreams, to build a better future.

As she passed the torch to the new graduates, Andrea Meeker, graduate from the fall 2023 class, shared how participation in Getting Ahead gave her the encouragement she needed to continue her education. Meeker is currently attending GED classes through the HOPE (Helping Our People Excel) program of the Fannin Literacy Council.

Kora Berryhill, fall 2023 Getting Ahead graduate, was the guest speaker for the graduation ceremony.

Berryhill shared her struggles when she unexpectedly found herself a single mom, and how the resources and concepts that she discovered while participating in Getting Ahead have given her new hope and confidence. Berryhill has obtained employment with TCOG’s 2-1-1 Texoma program, where she connects individuals with community resources and government services. While she still faces challenges, she is in a better place than she was six months ago when she graduated the program.

Four graduates of the spring 2024 class were recognized for perfect attendance at all sixteen sessions.

Ana Villanueva, Yazmin Govea, Laci Lightfoot, and Heather Sayre each received a $25 Brookshires gift card for their dedication and commitment.

Graduate Tammy shares her future story collage.

Sonya Elmore and Amanda Pinkston, both Getting Ahead graduates, were recognized for having completed training to become certified facilitators for the program.

Facilitators Kreider and Elmore then awarded each graduate a certificate and a yellow rose. Kreider also gifted each graduate with a copy of the book Limitless by Jim Kwik. She explained that the book provides tools to help individuals cast off their perceived limitations, and she challenged the investigators to see themselves as limitless in achieving their dreams.

District Judge Laurie Blake was on hand to offer words of congratulations to the graduates. Blake presented each investigator with an engraved bois d’arc pen custom-made by David Keene.

Graduate Yazmin receives her personalized bois d'arc pen from Judge Laurie Blake.

Graduate Ana Villanueva said, "Thank you Getting Ahead for teaching me so many new things and for giving me the hope of a better future for my son and I."

"Attending Getting Ahead has been my dream for 4 years. The opportunity presented itself this year. I’ve grown leaps and bounds in every area. It’s been more than I ever hoped for. Thanks ever much for the class!" shared graduate Mary Beth Wilkins.

“I’m very thankful for getting the opportunity to go through the Getting Ahead program. It has opened my eyes.” said Graduate Laci Lightfoot. “I can’t wait to see the changes that are going to come out of everything I learned.”

Family members, friends, and community officials were in attendance to celebrate with the graduates and enjoy the reception following the ceremony.

The Getting Ahead program is for people who are living in poverty or unstable situations. It’s about building economic stability for themselves and a better future for their communities. The idea of “getting ahead” means action and movement – getting ahead of where they are now, toward a future that they really want. The program is sponsored by District Attorney Richard Glaser, the Fannin County Ministerial Alliance and Texoma Regional Foundation. The Getting Ahead Steering Committee is very grateful for the support provided by the Fannin County Hospital Authority, local businesses and churches. Special thanks go to the First Presbyterian Church for use of their facility for the graduation

Are you tired of just getting by and looking for hope? Getting Ahead Fannin County is currently accepting applications for their 2024 fall session, scheduled to begin in mid-August at the Bailey Inglish Early Childhood Center. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/GettingAheadFanninCo.