Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ by World (GA), Logan County, Cohort 1, Winter 2018 Report
Getting Ahead in Logan County began on April 26, 2018 at First United Methodist Church, in partnership with Bridges Community Action Partnership. A total number of 24 applied, 12 started the class and 7 participants graduated. Five participants dropped out for assorted reasons that include but not limited to obtaining a job and moving out of the county.
Poverty is defined by “as the extent to which an individual does without resources”, During the workshop, graduates learned to look at poverty in their community and lives, as well as resources available. The more resources a person has in all eleven areas (financial, emotional, mental/cognitive, language, social capital, physical, spiritual, integrity/trust, motivation/persistence, relationship/role models, and the knowledge of hidden rules) as identified by Phil Devol, the easier it is to make changes and live well. All resources are interconnected; having elevated levels of some resources make it easier to build upon the rest and move out of poverty into a more sustainable life. A graduate and now Getting Ahead facilitator (Union County graduate who co-facilitated Logan County) provided valuable insight into these early modules for participants. “when I first started the class, it was depressing to look at my life now and what resources are available to help me move forward; but as we went on I became more hopeful, especially for planning the future.”
One Logan County graduate stated, “resources in my community were the biggest eye opener and lesson for me”.
Visualizing the lives and businesses of poverty, middle class, and wealth proved to be enlightening for participants. We referred to these models throughout the workshop to understand and maneuver the differences between economic classes.
Through hidden rules and language, participants learned that not all economic classes think or behave in the same manner. Hidden Rules are the unspoken cues and habits of a group. Language is having the knowledge of language registers (formal, casual, intimate) and discourse patterns necessary for most people trying to get out of poverty. Language skills help solve problems and create relationships of mutual respect. If you know the rules and language type, you can get along in a group more easily than someone who is new to the group. Another graduate said of the program: “I learned that not every class thinks or acts the same, that schools operate on middle class levels…. there are a lot of services that are here to help you when you are down and out…. that some stores and loan companies are out to get you…. that living wage is much higher than minimum wage…and THERE IS HOPE.” All modules assist graduates in developing their future story. This means planning for the future and moving out of the “tyranny of the moment.” Together, we work on developing SMART goals and action steps. Goals can be either short term or long term. They learn to plan out their action steps on a calendar and to make to do lists, once again helping them visualize their future story. Participants are even asked to draw out what their life looks like now, and what they want their life to look like in the future. Graduates work with their development coach to meet the SMART goal (s) they set for themselves. The Development Coaches will help graduates reduce barriers and utilize resources to continue creating self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on public assistance while continuing to improve their economic status.
As part of the workshop participants worked through debt – to income ratio, and the percentage of monthly income going to housing. Per the request of the participants we included a session on budgeting. Each person was given the task to keep track of all expenses paid out and income coming in for at least 2 weeks prior to the budgeting class. Moving forward, Bridges Community Action will add an extra week to the Getting Ahead workshop to include Budgeting 101, and How to Build Good Credit. The next workshop for Getting Ahead will begin January 2019 and once again be held at either First United Methodist Church or Recovery Zone in Bellefontaine. We will utilize the pool of nine people in Logan County trained as certified facilitators and 1 graduate who will act as a co-facilitator.