‘Getting Ahead’ is easier with Urban Mission program

'Getting Ahead' at Watertown Urban Mission

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The secret to getting ahead is getting started and that’s what nine graduates of a Watertown Urban Mission program did when they started a new journey 16 weeks ago.

“Thank you to the Getting Ahead program,” Diana Burden said. “I have found myself, I lost years ago.”

Burden wasn’t the only one to find herself. She and eight others graduated from the Getting Ahead program a 16-week workshop for people who lack resources.

“We start out taking a deep in-depth look at ourselves and the impact of poverty in our own lives,” facilitator Dawn Cole said, “and after a period of self-reflection, we look at poverty in our community.”

A graduation ceremony Thursday night marked the end of the workshop. For Tanya Curry, the workshop helped her heal after years of traumas.

“You guys taught me how to love again,” she said, “and that was amazing right there.”

Graduate Shane Parsons says at the beginning of 2020, he was “broken, battered, and used” with a drug addiction, but has used this opportunity to get his life on track.

“I’m on to the next chapter in my life,” he said, “hopefully going to find some type of employment, and I just recently got into an apartment.”

For Kellie Jo Bennett, she found her voice.

“When I first started out, I was very quiet. I didn’t talk very much to a lot of people,” she said, “but it’s helped bring me out of my shell.”

And her aunt Robin Adams, a graduate of the first program held in Watertown, was there to cheer her on.

“Words can’t describe how proud I am of her,” Adams said. “She’s come such a long way.”

The nine graduates will join the 109 that came before them. Together they will work on staying ahead.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.