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EDC funds ‘Getting Ahead’ life skills program, hears success stories

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Marble Falls

Classes for 'Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World' are once a week for 16 weeks at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Sara McKinney of Granite Shoals didn’t realize how much “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World” would impact her life when she signed up for the life skills program in 2023.

“This class really taught me what being unstable was,” she told the Marble Falls EDC Board of Directors during a regular meeting on March 6, during which funding for the program was approved. “It gave me the tools to become responsible and move forward.”

Months later, McKinney is now a homeowner and a registered nurse and helps others in the transformational program as an instructor.

“Because of the class, I know how to avoid the ‘sharks’ that will make me unstable again,” she said. “They never teach you this stuff in high school.”

McKinney is one of 36 graduates of the 16-week program, which is made possible through a partnership with Workforce Network Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to workforce development in the Highland Lakes.

“It brings individuals together in a kitchen table-type atmosphere,” said Workforce Network President Fay Crider. “(Participants) look at their lives from 11 different resources and identity where they are and where they want to go to in order to move to stability.”

The program is sorely needed for those seeking a path to success, Crider said.

“In my business of workforce development, I found it important to identify a way to move individuals from instability to stability,” she said. “We believe we found it. It is the ‘Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World’ program.”

Due to that positive impact, the EDC board on Wednesday voted to chip in $5,000 for each 16-week course, up to four. Each of the four courses must have a minimum of 10 people enrolled, and classes have to be held in Marble Falls to be eligible for the money.

“This is good stuff,” EDC Director John Packer said of the program. “We need this so bad.”

Another recent program graduate, Meggan Lewis of Kingsland, also shared her story at the meeting.

“I got into this class and felt the most stable I’ve felt in my entire life,” she said. “I had so much instability and uncertainty in my life before it.”

Lewis credited “Getting Ahead” for changing the way she views the world.

“One thing that stuck with me the entire time I was in the class was that it’s not what you know, but who you know,” she said. “The more people you know, the more resources you have.”

She started EMT classes in Blanco on March 4 to prepare for a future career as a firefighter.

“I’m excited, nervous, scared — all of the above,” she laughed.

Classes for “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by World” are held once a week for 16 weeks from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 105 RR 1431 in Marble Falls. The program offers food and childcare during classes to ensure maximum accessibility for its students. For more information, call Celice Goad at 830-385-5713.