The following is from Jocabeth Reyes, a Getting Ahead graduate. Reyes now works with Main Street Ministries.

Jocabeth Reyes’s Hacia Adelante (Getting Ahead) class

My name is Jocabeth Reyes. I was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. I arrived in the United States at age 18 without knowing the English language.

I lived in Chicago, Illinois, and started working at a wood factory. Shortly after, I studied English in a free class that was offered in my community. At the time I worked to help my parents with household bills.

Pretty soon I had a family of my own. My husband and I have three children, and for a long time I dedicated myself to taking care of our household and three children while my husband worked. As a wife I supported my husband so that he could realize his goals and work. Before I knew it, little by little, I had put aside some of my dreams in the process. My life was fulfilling in my roles of mother and wife and in helping to build a beautiful family.

As time went by and I watched my children grow, I felt the need to start improving myself and be an example to them. I wanted to teach them to pursue their own dreams. Part of me wanted my dreams fulfilled, too.

I have always considered myself a hardworking person and eager to learn and improve, so I started looking for opportunities to learn something new.

A friend told me about Hacia Adelante (Getting Ahead) classes. I decided to register for the class on the last day of registration. You could say I was still undecided about attending the class.

The morning of the first class, I started my typical day of driving my kids to school intending to take the normal route, but for reasons I can’t describe, I took a wrong turn and ended up on the route that would take me to where the class was being held at St. James Lutheran Church, in another part of town from where I lived.

I began listening to the topics that motivated me to gain the objectives I was desiring to attain. The second day, we were discussing the theory of change, and I was reminded that sometimes life feels like nothing can change so we accept our life situations, but the discussion soon turned to help us think about what could be. This information inspired me to continue.

Hacia Adelante motivated me to keep pursuing my dreams by offering me tools to do so and changing my way of thinking by giving me valuable information. Today, I am choosing to keep this information to make my life better.

Reading the case studies shared in Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World, I realized that if they could make changes in their life with all the barriers and challenges, then I could, too.

Thanks to this class, I gave myself the opportunity to open my small business of catering Mexican food for events through friends and family. Unfortunately, I had to close it due to personal health reasons.

After graduation, some of the class was invited to train to become Hacia Adelante volunteer facilitators, and I raised my hand. I became a facilitator and just finished graduating my own class of 10 participants. During the class I had many significant moments. One of the things I enjoyed most was knowing that I could share with others what helped change my own life. Another great value was that I learned so much from them. When my class graduated, I wanted to continue learning and find a way to continue sharing all the information I had, because I was living the change myself. Now I know how to look for solutions, how to look for the right relationships, and how to improve myself.

The resource scoring chart mental model helped me build my spiritual stability and financial stability, and it helped me better organize my life. I learned to look for solutions for my future. One of the most valuable lessons that Hacia Adelante has taught me is to trust myself, and that has motivated me to continue learning.

Today I am part of the Main Street Ministries team as a part-time bilingual program coordinator. I took a step of faith, which took so much courage, and I am so pleased that I did. When I was given the opportunity to work at Main Street Ministries, I quickly learned that this was a place where I could continue to grow, learn, and become confident. I am excited to continue learning to contribute what I can in my community. I feel God was responsible for my journey that brought me to where I am today.

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.