The following is from Nichole Smith, Getting Ahead graduate (with ACEs supplement), of China Grove, North Carolina. Her Getting Ahead cohort was facilitated by Main Street Marketplace and Meeting Place.

Nichole Smith at Getting Ahead graduation, January 2023

As a participant and graduate in Getting Ahead, I admit my astonishment and enlightenment as we learned more about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the correlation between these instances of trauma and the negative impact on individuals as adults.

I was familiar with ACEs because I work within the public school system; however, I did not connect what I learned about childhood trauma and my students with ongoing trauma filtering into adulthood. When I found out about Getting Ahead, I had no idea that one year and two months later, I would spend 33 days homeless (due to no fault of my own).

Additionally, imagine my personal shock discovering how my own ACEs had unknowingly influenced my life.

These two community programs working in conjunction is a stroke of genius because it helped me find the reason why being in a constant state of anxiety and/or trauma from infancy to adulthood can create numerous barriers.

Getting Ahead and ACEs are perfectly paired partners that are teaching me how to navigate through my past to hopefully grasp hold of the abundant life and wellness that every person has a right to enjoy.

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.