The following was submitted to aha! Process by Mona Ash, director of Burlington Building Bridges. It has been edited.

Rachelle Woods is a graduate of the 13th Burlington Building Bridges Getting Ahead workshop. She is an amazing mom. a good friend, and is focused, driven, and working on her future story! As you can see, she is also an amazing poet. The first poem was written during the first part of Getting Ahead, and the second was written for her graduation.

Building Bridges

Even on the days I find my heart too heavy to carry with a smile, the little things always seem to bring me joy.

It is no longer difficult weeks, trying months; it is a fight of one day at a time that has gotten easier.

Knowing I do not need to be strong for anyone other than myself brings a little solace.

“I am having a bad day” has never been so easy to say.


Treading water with solid ground just out of reach.

Each and every breath, kick, stroke, more purposeful than the last.


An ocean of desolate spaces left in my growing wake.

Finally my feet feel stability over a once precarious incline. A plateau of relief one stride away.

Fight harder.

A slow exhale as the water breaks.

Each step intensifies, intentionally.


Horizon view glittering with every passion. And a home with all the space needed for a changing narrative.

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.