Students Graduate from Innovative POWER Program

by Diane VanDyke

Fourteen students graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on May 2 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, basic computer skills, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism.

For the graduates, the POWER Program gives them the confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives.

“I was a lost soul in need of direction after being belittled all my life. I struggled with low self-esteem and depression. The POWER Program helped me grow as a person, gain confidence and friends and make me feel more secure in my abilities,” said student speaker Leroy Moore, who plans to enroll in Hotel and Restaurant Management courses in fall 2013. “I’m ready for a new chapter in my life.”

Similarly, graduate Kristin Comitale also is looking forward to the future for the first time in her life after struggling with family and school issues. She now plans to continue her education and earn her master’s degree in a field where she can help people.

Keynote speaker Kelly Davis, a 2009 POWER graduate and student mentor, will graduated with honors this month, earning her associate’s degree in Human Services. She will continue her education at Chestnut Hill College in fall 2013. She also earned the Grace Mary Spena Memorial Award for her community service.

“I stand here today a changed woman,” Kelly told the audience. “I realized with the POWER Program that I am a good person, who made a few bad decisions. . . Diane Haar has been my backbone and gave me a chance when no one else would. I am so thankful for the POWER program, which gave me the keys to success.”

As part of the ceremony, 14 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.

For student Peter Johnson, the POWER Plus Program gave him the support he needed to develop social skills and confidence to succeed with his college courses. In 2012, he made the Dean’s List, and this year, he became a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He will complete his associate’s degree in Spring 2014 and then get his bachelor’s degree.

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, Faculty Byron Goldstein 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), Patricia Kind Founation, van Ameringen Foundation 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 or Program Advisor Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or

Spring POWER Program graduates and their supporters. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Spring POWER Program graduates and their supporters. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

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