Thank you everyone for celebrating our Getting Ahead graduation. Thank you to the kind and generous sponsors of this program, Tri-Lakes Cares, for providing space and all those great meals and gift cards, and especially to Professor Regina Lewis for her expertise and her time to make this program possible.

Look at this; this is my smile. A couple of months ago, before I started this program, I had literally forgotten how to smile. Sure, I would smile at the occasional joke, but my smile was from the outside. This smile is coming from the inside.

Last week Annette Craft, my case worker at Tri-Lakes Cares, commented on how I was looking. She said that I was looking so much better, happier and smiling. It was so good to hear those words … Annette knew me from the first moment I had stepped into the center. I was down, very uninspired, no direction, feeling totally lost. There was enough to worry about other than my own feelings, not realizing then those feelings are the key to everything.

When I was offered a place in this program, I literally had no idea what the main focus would be. Sure “Getting Ahead” gave you some idea from the title that maybe this would be about getting a job, getting back into the swing of things, really getting ahead. From my experiences in the last four or five years, getting ahead has been almost impossible. I was simply just “getting by” if you could call it that, most of the time “NOT.”

I attended the orientation evening to find that everyone else who had signed up for this program was feeling pretty much the same as myself. What was this class really about? Regina asked all of us that question. “What is Getting Ahead?” We were all still rather mystified, and myself, really confused. We couldn’t find an answer.

So, speeding forward to the end. What did I learn, and how do I feel now?

One word: Fantastic.

My level of understanding of how poverty creates poverty, and if you do not have the tools of how to remove yourself from it, then you never will. This program gives you those skills and tools of how to tackle poverty and how you can release yourself from it. Sure, it is not all perfect, takes times and a lot of energy, but if you don’t know where to start, how to deal with it, how to change your mindset, then I would have remained that lost and confused person I was at the beginning.

Professor Regina Lewis understands poverty. You can only understand it if you have lived it. It’s a very uninspiring way to live. With so many talented people trapped, trying to escape its clutches just to make better lives for themselves, living without the means of supporting your family is demoralizing enough in itself.

This program opens up your mind and allows you to rethink the rules of your particular life, those nonworking rules you had set for yourself. It allows you to analyze yourself—turn a negative thought into a positive, take chances because you never know where they might lead you. Turn opportunity into a possibly life-changing event. Wow! If you can make all that happen, then you really are onto something. I am so fed up thinking in the negative, you don’t realize that you are living it constantly day in and out. Enough is enough, time to change all of that, which would not have been possible if I had not made this program part of my life. In the short eight weeks that this class runs, it can be a lifesaver for people who attend it.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.


Jassmond, graduating from Getting Ahead, spoke to the attendees of the graduation celebration in Monument, Colorado. Tri-Lakes Cares, located in Monument, is a community-based, volunteer-supported resource center whose purpose is to improve people’s lives through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. Since 1984 they have been meeting clients’ most basic needs while helping them move toward self-sufficiency. Getting Ahead is one of the self-sufficiency programs Tri-Lakes offers in order to build hope, options, and bridging capital with the clients they serve.