Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

 It was a rainy Thursday night in Georgia, but that didn’t stop couples from gathering for a night of food and fun, and strengthening couples and marriages in their relationships.  #ElevateCouples Pop-up Event was hosted by GCO’s Family team (formerly Healthy Families Initiative) as a time to emphasize the importance of romantic relationships and keeping them thriving. Over a meal, couples were engaged in a course appetizer for the Elevate: Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level! Workshop. 

Elevate is offered to Georgia couples free of charge (as part of a partnership with University of Georgia and Project F.R.E.E.) as a time to invest in their marriage and relationships. The course is an eight week commitment from couples to discover ways to elevate their relationship to the next level. The course is offered in-person and virtually, and during this time couples are not in counseling, but lead through exercises to learn how to manage stress inside and outside of their relationship, conflict resolution, dealing with differences, and most importantly finding ways to connect to each other. It’s designed for couples of all ages (18 years old and up) who are in committed relationships and/or married. 

The pop-up event allowed couples a VIP look at what the course has to offer and how they can benefit from it both emotionally and physically. The group was able to hear one of the facilitators talk about highlights of the program and the best part of the course which is seeing couples grow. It didn’t stop there; attendees also watched a recorded testimony from previous workshop participants who explained the teachings of Elevate, and how it had a ripple effect in their family. What they learned went beyond their own marriage, but allowed for a trickle down of knowledge and modeling behavior for their grandchildren to see an example of a healthy relationship. 

To learn more about how you and your honey can Elevate, click here

 

 

 

 

Why Mentoring Matters

Why Mentoring Matters

Why Mentoring Matters

As I write this, I can think of a handful of people who have impacted my life over the years. I consider these individuals to be mentors whether or not the relationship was a formal mentoring one, and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am without their influence. They have helped me by simply listening and cheering me on when I wanted to give up. They became a lasting network of trusted support I can reach out to when I need it.

In return, I value the opportunity to serve as this kind of support for others. It isn’t so much about sharing knowledge in my opinion as it is about walking alongside someone and sharing in their story, and I find that I learn as much from the people I get to mentor as they learn from me. This is particularly satisfying when I get the chance to connect with someone from an unfamiliar culture or background. It is in these situations that the relationship generates more personal growth and satisfaction. I have become a better leader because of these experiences.

Mentees can also benefit from working with mentors in several ways. Having someone who will listen and gently guide without judgement is invaluable for personalities from any background. This is particularly true for individuals who have not experienced strong role models in their past. It can also be a plus for those with a weaker support network to engage with a mentor who is prepared to model good communication skills and can result in the capacity to build their network in a way that impacts work success.

Mentoring can create a framework for individuals to explore options outside of their lived experience and will generally foster a network of career and social support. Having someone who will check in with you on a regular basis and allow you to share your ideas can help reduce anxiety. By connecting on a personal level and finding security and trust there, a person is more likely to become open to new ideas and experiences.

These relationships can also benefit someone with very little professional experience to see their true value. When a person is encouraged and able to see how they can add value to a relationship, they are more likely to stay in the game longer and have a greater level of commitment to whatever they put their hand to.

Ultimately mentoring is about relationships, and this is the key to a good mentor/mentee experience. Each partner benefits because a mentoring partnership flows both ways. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the relationship in a meaningful way. There are many programs that incorporate mentoring into their platform of support. BETTER WORK is one of those.

 

A BETTER life begins with BETTER WORK.

Giving Hope to Others

As a work mentor, you can help someone with more than just creating a resume or practicing for an interview. You can help them:

  • Find resources
  • Develop contacts
  • Explore careers
  • Set goals
  • See their value

If you would like to explore the world of mentoring, I encourage you to find a good program that provides training and will support you throughout your experience. BETTER WORK Columbus is one program that can provide you with the structure needed to make a mentoring impact.

To find out more and mentor with BETTER WORK Columbus, go to BetterWorkColumbus.org and select the “Become a Mentor” link in the menu bar.

 

 

U.S. House Appropriations Committee Voted to Cut Charter Schools Program Funding

U.S. House Appropriations Committee Voted to Cut Charter Schools Program Funding

U.S. House Appropriations Committee Voted to Cut Charter Schools Program Funding

middle school charter school

Lawmakers Stifle Learning 

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee recently voted to cut $40 million from the federal Charter Schools Program, in addition to placing new burdensome restrictions on how charter schools operate. In response, the Georgia Center for Opportunity has signed on to a letter—along with 70 other organizations—urging Congress to restore the funding.

 

Buzz media statement
The Value of Family

The Value of Family

The Value of Family

Eda Beacham

Importance of Family

At GCO, the impact area of Family, we always need volunteers. Since  we devote much of our time and efforts to family, we enjoy hearing what about family inspires people to volunteer.  

Eda Beacham is a current volunteer for GCO and we wanted to share her story with you.  Let us know in the comments what strength and or similarities you have in common with Eda. We invite you to send in stories about your family, too. 

 

Eda’s Inspiration

The makeup of my family has changed over time. Through marriage, divorce, birth and death, there has been an ever-changing clan at the Thanksgiving table. The birth of nieces, nephews and our own two sons added to the joy; and the passing of my mom and later, my husband, brought sorrow and some empty chairs. Then the grandchildren came, and they filled the empty spaces with laughter and love. The cycle continues today with this next generation, as it does in most families.

 

Families are always changing, but what holds them together? For me, it was my mother and her eternal optimism. Her life was not easy, but she always believed things would get better. With a limited education, she worked hard and put all her love and determination into raising a family. She came through the Great Depression and WWII, so she knew how to stretch a dollar and “make do.” She taught us values like hard work and sharing with others. She believed in God and made sure we went to church.

 

a family playing on the couch

Our family will likely have the greatest impact on our lives and play a critical role as we grow throughout our lifetime. 

Creating strong family bonds and healthy family relationships is key to family wellness, mental stability, and physical health.

Learn more about free tools and resources available in the community to strengthen your relationships. 

Overcoming Circumstances

When my dad left after 27 years of marriage, Mom’s faith took on a new freshness and devotion; and she ventured out in search of where she could be of service. She decided to sell everything and move into a home as cook and housekeeper for a man who had survived a brain tumor, but was left with the mind of an eight-year old. After this gentleman passed away, my mom began to dream about a little piece of land in the country where she could put down new roots and serve.  She found a small tumbledown house on two acres, so she  went to work making it a home. While working full-time in the nearby little town, she hosted home Bible studies, planted big gardens every year, served scrumptious down-home meals to family, friends, or whoever came by, and took in few strays along the way. Even though my mother never made much money, she found a way to help people who were down on their luck – a friend or family member who was out of work and needed a place to live, a relative in prison who received encouragement and hope from her letters, families who needed food or money in a crisis. In what turned out to be my mom’s last year, just shy of 66 years old, she had taken in her first foster child, a young teenage girl. My mother never stopped dreaming; she never stopped giving. And Mom saw her dreams come to life.

 

Improve Your Life with a Growth Mindset

Improve Your Life with a Growth Mindset

Improve Your Life with a Growth Mindset

adults learning

Learning keeps you growing

Most people agree that learning is important. I’m just not sure we understand how important it really is. I can still remember as a child believing that I needed to know everything or people wouldn’t think I was smart and capable. I hear kids today (and even adults) saying, “You don’t have to tell me. I know that.” Saying this often enough can make it an automatic response to receiving new information.

There seems to be an inherent desire–starting at a very young age–to already have the knowledge we need to understand the world. It can be even more difficult for children to see the value of learning when our educational system (and usually our parents) place the focus on grades as the most important thing they have to achieve. And learning isn’t only important for kids. While it may start when we’re young, it surely doesn’t end there. If we are wise, we will be learning until the end of our lives.

Learning new information will help us grow personally in a way that allows us to better handle life’s challenges we face every day. As we continue learning into adulthood, it can actually improve our memory and help us relate to new information positively. It may even reduce our chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Learning can also help us adapt to new situations with less stress and anxiety. If you struggle to see change as good and prefer that things stay the same, this is a skill that will make your daily life more pleasant. It can also increase your value in the workplace because you’ll be able to easily “roll with the punches”. Learning even changes the way you think about the hard stuff. In short, it helps you embrace a growth mindset.

What is a growth mindset? This simply means you believe your abilities can be improved through dedication and hard work, and that your talents can be developed. It’s about more than just taking in feedback, learning from your experience, and coming up with strategies for improving. It’s also about knowing deep down in your gut that even when you fail at something, you will eventually succeed. In fact, it’s the knowledge that failing will only make you more likely to succeed the next time or the time after that! Every time you fail, your success muscle gets stronger.

Embracing this growth mindset will allow you to bounce back quickly from disappointment because you understand that every failure is an opportunity to learn something new and therefore a stepping stone toward your success. This helps us to be more resilient, and resiliency allows us to cope better with the hard things in life.

 

 

A BETTER life begins with BETTER WORK.

Learning equals confidence

In short, learning will make you more confident in yourself and in your future. Your perspective will change so you begin to see the journey of life differently. I encourage you to take the first step if you haven’t already. Find something new you want to learn today, and do it!

BETTER WORK communities have mentors who are available to walk alongside you during your journey. Visit betteropportunity.org to find out more.

 

Help From Where You Least Expect It

Help From Where You Least Expect It

Help From Where You Least Expect It

depressed man

“I don’t know what I’m going to do if I don’t find a better job; I might have to go back [to prison].”

Two months out of prison, Ray (name changed for anonymity) was explaining to me that he had reached the end of his rope. He had been struggling to find work that paid enough so that he could simply afford the basics. His part-time, minimum-wage job, just wasn’t cutting it. But, at least it was something.

Ray had the added complication of having to take custody of his son shortly after being released, meaning another mouth to feed when he could barely feed himself.

During his most desperate days after leaving prison, Ray said he was blessed to have the help of local church ministries who provided temporary housing for him and his son at a local extended stay hotel. He called GCO because that assistance was running out. He needed more help so he could remain at the extended stay but, more than that, Ray knew he had to solve the job problem to have any hope of getting off the hamster wheel he was on.

“I’m “clean” and have no intention of going back to that life.”

With a record that included drug and property crimes, Ray worried he might not have a shot at a better job. “But I’m willing to do any job that pays enough,” he assured me.

With those details in hand, our team started looking for the resources Ray needed and found some great opportunities for him and his son. There was a local church ministry offering help with additional days in the extended stay motel, there was the local restaurant eager to interview Ray for a better-paying job.

In the end, help came from a place Ray least expected it: the extended stay motel owner himself.

After hearing Ray’s story and observing him on the motel property, he offered Ray a job as a maintenance technician, a position that also included room and board on the motel property – an answer to Ray’s prayer for better pay and housing stability for him and his son.

 

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Like Ray, you might be surprised the motel owner stepped in to help the way he did, but you shouldn’t be. Many times, our local business owners bridge the gap for those in need in big and small ways – from helping support the nonprofits that serve emergency needs to, like the motel owner did for Ray, helping directly.

Too often, it’s business owners who get the negative press and little credit for the good they do. In reality, as Ray’s story reminds us, they are a huge part of the solution to poverty – both in the jobs they provide through their risk-taking and in their philanthropy made possible through the profits they generate.

Is this the end of Ray’s story? I don’t think so. Ray seems to have a drive that’s going to keep him reaching for better opportunities and, of course, if we can help him, we’ll be here to do that.

The point is that Ray’s story isn’t unique. For those reaching out and seeking help – for housing, for work, for food – there are often caring community members willing to help.

And sometimes that help comes from the place you least expect it.

If you or someone you know is struggling to find employment in Gwinnett or is looking for help to meet their basic needs, please visit www.betterworkgwinnett.org to find resources or to be connected to one of our “guaranteed-interview” employment partners.