Imagine reaching the last few days of the month and praying nothing unexpected happens before you receive your paycheck on the first. Consider the stress of trying to decide which bills you will pay first and which bills you will allow to incur a late fee, all the while working hard at a full time job, but still barely getting by? This is the situation for many within our community. Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM) has recognized this need and is working hard to help those who are just “getting by” by offering a way to “Get Ahead.”

Beginning in August of 2018, CCM began offering a 15-week course, bi-annually, to individuals who seemed to just be getting by. The initiative to bring this program to Cabarrus County was strongly encouraged by one of our CCM Board members. Along with his help and the help of Main Street Marketplace and Meeting Place in China Grove, we were able to receive the adequate training and instruction to bring this course to the residents of Cabarrus County. The course title is, “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World.”

The Getting Ahead class structure is unique in its layout and purpose. It is not the typical format of teacher and pupil, but rather a structure of community. It is a safe place to share life, encourage change, and cultivate growth. The content of the curriculum consists of practical information such as budget techniques and community resources, with a significant portion focusing on self-assessments and the development of personal resources. (i.e. financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual).

Everything needed to attend the class is provided, including books, materials, dinner for the whole family, and childcare. Students also receive a small financial incentive after the completion of the course and a graduation to celebrate their accomplishments.

The results and outcomes from attending a class vary with each attendee. The goal of the class is for each student to gain necessary knowledge that they can apply to their lives as they envision and live out a more positive and stable future story. Attendees create attainable goals to work toward, and apply knowledge learned to gradually move from instability to stability.

However, the greatest outcome is one that cannot be measured – building family-type relationships that support and encourage each other.

Below are several statements written by a few of our previous graduates:

“I found that I had this strength I never knew existed, which has led me into an awesome new beginning. I know that I can and will accomplish my goals which will lead to my dreams being fulfilled”.

“Before ‘G.A.’ I knew my past, lived in the present and hoped for a future. During ‘G.A.’ I learned from my past, investigated the present to create a future. After ‘G.A.’ I am growing from my past, acting in the present and getting prepared to live MY future.”

Our most recent class was held at All Saints Episcopal Church of Concord, with our next scheduled class to be held at the Kannapolis YMCA. We are very thankful to our church and community partners for their willingness in providing the facility, childcare and meals in order for this course to be a success.

Our next class is scheduled to be held on Wednesdays, from July 24, 2019 through November 6. In order to be accepted into the class, individuals must complete an application that may be accessed on our website, www.CooperativeMinistry.com or picked up in person at our Crisis Center, located at 246 Country Club Drive NE, Concord.

If you are a church or community partner that is interested in becoming involved in future classes, please contact our Getting Ahead Coordinator, Tilma Torres at ttorres@CooperativeMinistry.com.

We look forward to the continued growth of this program and the ability of our community’s residents to begin to “Get Ahead” in all aspects of their lives.

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