Almost Home Graduates Keep Rising.

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Almost Home Graduates Keep Rising.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

-Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise

Our Spring 2017 Almost Home cohort has finally graduated! As excited as I am for their accomplishments, I will miss our class. This cohort included nine individuals who committed to spending two hours in class twice a week. Each of these individuals led very busy lives and faced many challenges that made it difficult to attend the class. Still, they persisted and kept rising to the final moments of graduation.

During the graduation celebration, we had a restorative circle with the participants of Almost Home and the people in their support systems who attended. These circles are based on principles of restorative justice and community building. Community building was very palpable as class members spoke about what the class meant to them, and they highlighted the strengths and accomplishments of other people in the class. Many of the graduates said the class made them feel more confident. One graduate saved $500 since the beginning of the class 8 weeks ago. Additionally, many of the people in the graduates’ support systems spoke about the growth they’ve seen in their loved ones since the beginning of the class. Many support members in attendance also mentioned that the class members are sharing what they’ve learned in the class to financially empower others. This means that the Almost Home class is not only having an impact on those who attend, but creates a ripple effect, influencing all other members of their support system as well! The graduation celebration was both emotional and inspiring. We could not be more proud of the individuals who successfully completed the course!

 

Much of the material covered in the class was from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Financial Peace University covers topics including budgeting, saving for retirement, college, and emergencies, homeownership, insurance, and debt dumping. This material was heavily supplemented by wonderful guest speakers from the community. We had a team from Project Management Institute present three times throughout our 8 week course on managing life projects. We also had a professional organizer, Darla DeMorrow, join us to work on organizing the multitudes of paper everyone struggles to deal with. Dave Jonas from LegalAid explained some basics about real estate law. Our Executive Director, Marianne Lynch, held a resume workshop, and Eric Muckel and Jan Lord continued on this career development track by educating the class on the services offered by CareerLink. Judy Memberg, the Executive Director of Genesis Housing Corporation, spoke to the group about credit repair and homeownership opportunities in Montgomery County. We held a Community Engagement panel with Turea Hutson, Shae Ashe, and Megan Briggs (Habitat’s Director of Family Services). The class had very positive feedback about all the guests, and Financial Peace University. We were pleased to have many of the guest speakers join us for graduation. Additionally, members of Christ United Methodist Church, who generously donated and prepared dinner for many of the classes, were able to attend graduation. During the class session, we had volunteers provide childcare services, and some of those volunteers were able to celebrate with us as well.

These graduates, along with our volunteers, will remain a part of our community, and will work with our financial coaches to apply what they learned in Almost Home to their financial lives. Our coaches were able to attend the graduation, and they can certainly appreciate the accomplishments of our families. We hope we can join these families in working towards their goals, and we look forward to seeing all the wonderful things our families will achieve! I will look forward to meeting the new families who will continue to rise as they join our Fall 2017 Almost Home cohort.