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  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul Houston

Congratulations to the Seven New Graduates of the Getting Ahead Program


May 17, 2022 - Last Thursday, seven individuals who had only met each other virtually, got together to celebrate their completion of the Getting Ahead Program, launched by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 2021. Among the guests attending the graduation was Sheila Heimbinder, a strong supporter of the Society's new initiative that moves the organization past charity to a more impactful and transformational change of families in our community.


Getting Ahead consists of a 16-week course with 8-12 participants and includes group discussions and modules to help participants research resources in their community. The program is part of the Society's strategic move toward systemic change and resiliency activities. It encourages participants to identify the root causes of their poverty, create strategies to change those root problems, and build skill sets to respond to future challenges. Upon completion of the program, a graduation ceremony is held for the participants, who will continue to attend monthly meetings for support.


Reza, the only male participant in the group, was struggling to make rental payments.


"My kid's counselor referred me to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I called to ask for rental assistance and I talked to a really nice lady, Susan Massey. They gave me the help I needed and then referred me to Patricia Dornak who invited me to be part of the program."


Reza arrived in the United States in 2018. He returned to his home country, Afghanistan, after a year to bring his family to the U.S. Since starting the program, Reza has shared his personal struggles and strengthened his network of resources with the help of his classmates. He surprised everyone by announcing that he had recently ventured into a new journey of becoming a homeowner.


"I am thankful to everyone who shared their resources and to those who believed in us."


Tracy Simmons, community outreach manager of Dress for Success, also attended the event. She was instrumental in helping a number of the participants find a suit that would make them feel confident and proud of their success. Others in attendance included graduates from the first Getting Ahead group and Society of St. Vincent de Paul Board Members.


To learn more about this program and how you can be a part of it, please email gettingahead@svdphouston.org.

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About the Society of St. Vincent de Paul: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a 501c3 faith-based, non-profit organization serving the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for more than 150 years. Our mission is to grow spiritually through person to person service to all in need in our community. Our actions promote the dignity of the person, alleviate suffering and distress, while addressing the conditions that cause them through systemic change. The organization includes a network of 58 parish-based chapters, 2,000 volunteers, and a 50,000 square foot facility housing the majority of their programs, two resale shops, and 23 food pantries. All parish-based volunteers, community volunteers, and the small staff serving the volunteers work together as ONE SOCIETY.



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