EDGE’s 3rd Virtual Graduation
On January 28th, participants of Alvis’ EDGE (Empower Development by Gaining Employment) Program are celebrating their 5 ½ month-long journey into the workforce at our Virtual EDGE Graduation.
“At first, I was a little bit reluctant,” admitted one of the EDGE graduates. “I’ve been through all of these programs, and none of them really sank in, but, standing at the end of it today, I am so grateful I took this class. I really learned a lot from them. I can’t really put it all into words.”
The virtual EDGE Graduation honors the EDGE Program’s 3rd graduating class. Alvis’ EDGE Program, which is one year old, responds to workforce development needs across our community through a partnership between Alvis, the City of Columbus, and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio.
EDGE promises to give individuals a viable second chance at hope, redemption, and success, so they may access their fullest potential. The program utilizes cognitive behavioral interventions in its employment curriculum, in tandem with job readiness training.
One graduate was excited for the resources she had gained through EDGE to pursue her future career path in hospitality. For many graduates, EDGE served as a launchpad to opportunities they had never envisioned before, or initially viewed as unattainable. “I’m able to be at home now to take care of my mom,” said another graduate, motivated to find a work-from-home job so she could also take care of her family. “I’ve met a great group of people, and using those resources I was able to get a job that allowed me to be at home.”
Each graduate had a unique path to reentry, something that was touched on throughout the initial ceremony. An in-person graduation ceremony took place on Jan. 14th at the Reeb Avenue Center, a hub of hope on the South Side of Columbus.
Graduates walked across the stage, received their certificates, and shared a few words about their journeys toward reentry. The virtual celebration on 1/28 is an opportunity for the community to celebrate alongside graduates. Live elements of the program will be interspersed with some prerecorded elements from an in-person Graduation Ceremony, which was restricted to key staff members, a plus-one of each graduates’ choice, and socially-distanced.
“I, too, was once considered a high risk offender,” disclosed Carnell Washington, the opening Guest Speaker for the ceremony. “A prisoner. A number. But I came to realize that those words were just labels and stereotypes. And those labels and stereotypes were not my reality.”
This is a special graduating class, because not only did these individuals overcome their own personal challenges, but they turned around their lives during a global pandemic. Each individual had specific circumstances that they needed to overcome, and it wasn’t easy.
One particular client was candid about his background with an opioid addiction, which began after an encounter with a prescribed medication, and led to a total of 4 years in the justice system. “I would have had not nearly the resources that I have now, as far as housing and employment and the financial aspect of it. I would end up right back where I was.”
For the Class of January 2021, live speakers will share remarks on the personal and professional growth undergone by EDGE graduates, who have participated in career-readiness trainings, resume-writing workshops, mock interviews, multimedia presentations, and reentry-centric support from Alvis staff and community partners.
Dr. Lewis Dodley of the EDGE Program offered some closing remarks at the ceremony. Noting his own awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in greater isolation for all of us, Dodley offered mementos to show his love and care for every one of the graduates during these difficult times. “You can allow this stuff that’s going on in society to get you, and I know you’ve got a lot to work on, to determine who you are… you guys know who you are. It’s a chance.”
This year’s EDGE Team was led by LaShun Hughley, Karen Clark, and Terrance Hinton. We are so thankful for our amazing clients, dedicated staff, and exceptional leadership, who helped this class succeed.
Thank you all!