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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Class provides hope for those in poverty

  • Roberta Mitcham knows what it is like to be down on her luck.
    She's been homeless, an addict and spent a lifetime in living in poverty, but 15 weeks ago she started a class that gave her hope.
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  • Roberta Mitcham knows what it is like to be down on her luck.
    She's been homeless, an addict and spent a lifetime in living in poverty, but 15 weeks ago she started a class that gave her hope.
    Mitcham, her daughter, Jazmin LaRue, and Jazmin's fiancee Aaron Fickett, all participated in STEPMC's third Getting Ahead class. They, along with others, graduated Thursday night.
    Roberta, 50, came to McPherson to participate in the Mt. Hope Sanctuary program. She was doing well, had a job and had regained custody of her daughters. However, fate intervened, and Roberta was laid off from her job.
    She said she felt hopeless. Workers at Mt. Hope encouraged her to take the Getting Ahead class.
    “I was ready to give up,” she said. “I didn't think there was anything I could do, but I thought if all these people can do it, so can I.”
    Roberta was immediately able to plug into resources through STEPMC. When she had problem with her truck, a member of STEP found a mechanic who volunteered to assist with repairs.
    Rebecca Lewis, the STEPMC coach, who also is a Getting Ahead graduate, suggested Roberta take online courses to build skills so she could qualify for more job openings.
    “Instead of feeling stuck and as though I had no help,” she said, “I know I am not alone. There are resources out there to help. I don't have to give in to those negative thoughts. There are people there to give you help.”
    Roberta is sharing her advances with the younger generation. Both Jazmin and Aaron, who have a 2-year-old daughter together, have been able to find jobs since they started the Getting Ahead class. They have learned to budget their money and are looking into getting their GEDs or high school diplomas
    “I think they have really liked the classes,” Roberta said. “I have noticed that Jazmin is a lot happier and has been able to reach out for resources.”
    Roberta has hope for herself and her family. She is looking forward to her online classes and a time soon she will be able to get back into the workforce.
    “Without Mt. Hope and STEPMC, I think I still would be homeless. I would have given up, but they have given me encouragement. ... “They have opened doors. The doors are always open.”
    The next step for Roberta, Jazmin and Aaron would be to become Circle Leaders. If they choose to continue in the program, they will be matched with community volunteers known as Allies. The Allies provide support to the Circle Leaders and help them work toward goals.
    STEPMC is always in need of volunteers to be Allies or to serve on one its community teams. To become a volunteer or sign up for an upcoming Getting Ahead Class, call 620-242-2015, email stepmcphersoncounty@gmail.com or go to stepmcks.org on the Web. Following is a list of the rest of Thursday's Getting Ahead graduates: Colby Boyd, Crystal Clark, Jerome Goering, Cynde Hartley, Jo Lewis, James Lyle, Rhea Lyle, Michelle Marceau, Manuel Rivera, Megan Smith, Julie Whittle and Tracy Williams.

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