POWER program graduation

By Diane VanDyke

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) held a graduation ceremony on April 26 to recognize the achievements of 21 students who successfully completed the Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) program.

The POWER program helps individuals in mental health and substance abuse recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a free 14-week, two-credit course that focuses on career self-assessment, presentation skills, time management, resume and cover letter preparation, interview skills, computer basics, goal setting and college success skills, among others.

According to POWER Director Lisa Barbiero, over 600 students have graduated from the POWER program since it started in 2006. More than 40 graduates are continuing their education at MCCC to earn certificates and degrees and many others entered the workforce.

As part of the ceremony, nine students were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus program. These students are attending college classes, enrolled in degree programs or currently employed as a result of their participation in the POWER Program and receive ongoing support through POWER Plus.

As part of the ceremony, several POWER graduates shared their stories, describing the personal challenges they overcame and how the POWER program provides the self-assurance and skills they will need in the future.

One graduate, Jonathan Dawe, described how the POWER program helped him to make progress toward his goals.

“During this program, I learned how to productively plan my days and weeks. I learned about decision making, and I obtained great tools to help me not only prioritize but also balance my life,” he said. “While we weren’t directly taught this, I came to the conclusion that I should strive to make steps forward and never back.”

For Betsyann Thornton, the POWER and POWER Plus programs helped her overcome her fears and pursue her education. She plans to earn her associate’s degree in Human Services.

 “The POWER program dramatically changed the way I saw myself; the name fits,” Thornton said. “My achievements in POWER made me proud of myself, and I needed that.”

“I’m a full-time student now and it’s hard,” she continued. “Sometimes I’m scared I won’t be able to maintain a 4.0 GPA, but I’m learning through POWER Plus that I don’t need to be perfect to be successful.”

Lori Schreiber, community liaison for POWER, presented the POWER Advocate awards to Alexis Moyer and Rhonda Zartman from Merakey, a nationwide developmental, behavioral health and education provider with local offices in Montgomery County. The award is given to individuals who have referred students to POWER and have been exceptional in their support of the program.

The POWER team includes Director Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison Lori Schreiber, Employment and Grant Coordinator Tarsha Scovens, Coordinator Holly Harris, Peer Mentor Kevin Ford, faculty member Byron Goldstein, faculty member Jane Luddy and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

The POWER Program is funded by the Montgomery County Office of Health and Human Services, The Pew Charitable Trust, the Patricia Kind Family Foundation, the Montgomery County Foundation, the Charter Foundation, and Montgomery County Community College.

Individuals interested in the POWER Program may obtain a referral from their mental health or school provider or may self-refer.  For more information, contact Community Liaison Lori Schreiber at 215-461-1151 or lschreib@mc3.edu or Director Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or lbarbier@mc3.edu.

Photo caption:  Montgomery County Community College recently celebrated the achievements of 30 students who completed the Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) and POWER Plus programs. The POWER program helps individuals in mental health and substance abuse recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals, and the POWER plus program provides ongoing support as they continue their education or start their jobs. Photo by Chloe Elmer