by Diane VanDyke
Twenty-two students graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on Dec. 7 during a ceremony held at Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.
The POWER Program helps individuals in mental health recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a two-credit college course that focuses on time management, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism. This semester, the POWER Program initiated a basic computer skills course.
For the graduates, the POWER Program gives them the confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives.
“The POWER Program reassured me that I am somebody, and I will be able to get my degree and even speak in front of people,” said Sharon Juhasz, one of the student speakers at the ceremony. “The program gave me the tools I need move ahead in my education and career.”
Similarly, graduate Bahiyyah Green acknowledge that the “skills and education will help her every day” and she doesn’t need to rely on other substances.
Green is a senior at the Green Tree School in Philadelphia. She participates in the POWER-TAY Program – the Transitional Age Youth program for young adults between the ages of 16 and 28 years. This program focuses on providing skills earlier in life to provide students with a better opportunity for success.
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.
POWER Program alumnus, Kyle Guingo, spoke about how the POWER Program and his parents helped him to overcome his learning disability.
“The POWER and POWER Plus program gave me the skills and self-esteem I needed to put together a resume and have an interview with Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid,” he said.
Guingo explained how he met with Coach Reid and then was invited to Lehigh University to assist with the Eagles training camp. Now, he is in the second season of working part-time with the Eagles equipment staff.
During the ceremony, POWER Program Director Diane Haar presented the POWER Advocate Award to Renee Brooks, faculty member and job coach at the Green Tree School. She is the liaison for students at Green Tree who attend the POWER-TAY program.
“Being here today makes me smile, as I hear your stories about how your dreams and goals are becoming a reality,” she said. “This program (POWER-TAY) teaches students who they are before the world tells them who they are not.”
The POWER team includes Director/Faculty Diane Haar, Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber, Peer Mentor Kelly Davis, Administrative Coordinator B. Dianne Johnson and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.
Montgomery County Community College and the Office of Montgomery County Behavioral Health/Development Disabilities provide funding for POWER and POWER Plus Programs, which also receives support from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and other private foundations. However, the programs are in need of funding to continue next year.
Individuals interested in the POWER TAY or POWER programs 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Program Advisor Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or email@example.com.