The following is from Norma Parsons, a paralegal and Getting Ahead facilitator with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma in Altus, Oklahoma.
I want to introduce Anna Rivera. She graduated from the Getting Ahead class on May 11, 2023. She started attending the Bridges Out of Poverty training on May 31, 2023, and she started facilitator training in June 2023.
Six years ago, Anna Rivera lived in a tent and had lost custody of her youngest child. She was a victim of her own substance abuse. She was arrested, and on the day of her court date, she realized it was her oldest child’s birthday and that she had been taking drugs for 28 years. When she went to court, they offered her drug court, and she made the choice to try to get clean. She graduated from drug court and has been working on her sobriety.
During her entire life, all Anna had known was how to survive by lying, cheating, or stealing. She and her husband have been married for 10 years and have helped each other with their sobriety. She has already started making inroads to making a better life for her family. She got custody of her daughter, she found a good job, and then she heard about our class.
She started the class not knowing exactly how she would benefit from it, but she made the commitment. In our class, we like to bring in community leaders and professionals to eat with the class to help build their social capital. Through the class, her contacts, and the curriculum, she gained the confidence to set out to buy her first home. She was approved for the financing and was scheduled to close on her new home in June 2023.
The aha! Process Getting Ahead program engages investigators (participants) in exploring the realities of poverty in their communities and how those realities impact them. They also explore the causes of poverty, the “hidden rules” of economic class, and ways to develop resources and build stable lives. Getting Ahead graduates build relationships across class lines and often join the decision-making tables in their communities.