It was a very berry breakfast!
On Thursday, May 2nd, Foothills Family Resources hosted their inaugural
fundraising breakfast at South Wind Ranch, Travelers Rest’s newest event
venue. It was the perfect location for our guests to enjoy beautiful scenery in a relaxed atmosphere, while enjoying a delicious breakfast of pancakes with strawberries, bacon and eggs. Following a brief presentation by FFR’s Executive Director, David Bolton, which highlighted its 30+ years of service to Northern Greenville County, personal stories from two former program participants were shared with the audience.
The first was from Jenny Butler, a graduate of both FFR’s GED program
and The Center for Working Families career development program . A quick study, Jenny not only finished her classes in short order, but is now the smiling face you see when you enter the lobby of Foothills Family Resources! The second speaker was Trey Everette, who spoke of his re-entry into the workforce and the start of a better life after a stint in prison due to opioid addiction. Through FFR’s Center for Working Families program and partnerships with local employers, Trey has been employed for over eight months and has already become a supervisor! Jenny and Trey are just two of our many “success stories” and we couldn’t be prouder of them and all of our participants!
August 13, 2019 quickly became a busy day here at Foothills Family Resources. Parents and grandparents with school aged children lined the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open to be welcomed inside.
This is the day of the BIG School Tools distribution! The time when children would receive the necessary tools needed to start the new school year: book bags filled with paper, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, notebooks, pencil pouches, scissors, glue sticks, calculators and yes, hand sanitizer and tissues!
This day would not have happened without the generous donation from the Southeastern Chapter of International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and United Way of Greenville County. Every year when this time approaches, United Way finds a company that is willing to go that extra mile to supply children with the tools necessary to start school.
We were fortunate enough to have some extra hands at FFR that day as Linda Esposito, Peter and Cyndy Oligny, John and Camille Hood, and Kim Pierce volunteered to help out hand out the book bags, as well as several other treats, including delicious mini cupcakes from Marci Jo’s Olde Mountain Store, and toothbrushes from Slater Drug Co., Paris Mountain Dental, and The Carolina Oaks Dental Group! Victoria Chandler was gracious enough to lend her photography skills to snap a few pictures of the event for us too! Ronda and Amber from Crystal Valley Day Spa also gave their time by giving free haircuts to over 20 students while they waited for their turn to get book bags! We were truly blessed on August 13, 2019.
For the 2019-20 school year, Foothills Family Resources staff and volunteers distributed 195 well-filled book bags to the future scholars of Northern Greenville County.
With a new Human Resources Director in place at Milliken, Foothills Family Resources hosted a tour for their new Director, Stacey Huddleston, Dale Capps, and the plant nurse on May 8th . Milliken has been a partner of FFR for many years, both as an employer of our program graduates and as a financial supporter, but now also donates snack packs for our children’s programs and GED students. These packs include healthy snacks and juices, and are much appreciated! We look forward to our continued partnership and working closely with Stacey and Dale.
Written by Marilyn Neves (pictured left), Director of Community Outreach.
Many thanks to all who participated in and attended this year’s Strawberry
Festival! It was held on Saturday, May 4 th , and had something for every age group. Inside Slater Hall, there was dancing by the Irish Dancers from the West End, a theatrical presentation by the Travelers Theatre, rousing music by Authenticity, mind-blowing magic by The Magic Man, improv by
Adliberation, and karate at its best, performed by Living Water Martial Arts. On our outside stage, we opened the festival with the Slater-Marietta Green Wave Chorus, led by Ms. Brenda Lee, and enjoyed an afternoon of timeless music by Main Street, one of our local favorites.
We were excited to host over 50 arts and crafts vendors, with everything
from jewelry to pottery, and caricatures to face painting. Top that off with a
host of twelve food trucks and vendors, serving a variety of foods to satisfy
everyone’s taste buds, including STRAWBERRIES!
One of our highlights for this year, given the date of the festival being May
the 4th , was our “May the 4th Be With You” Dog Costume contest. With the help of PetSmart and Blue Buffalo, our Star Wars-themed contest allowed us to get photos of dogs dressed in a Star Wars costumes, and our panel of judges picked the winner, who won a large gift basket put together by PetSmart and Blue Buffalo. Our winner was “Lazarus” who was a very convincing Yoda!
We love hosting this event for our community, and hope that everyone will
plan to join us again next year. The festival is always held on the first
Saturday in May, and we hope you’ll join us next year!
My name is Jenny Butler, and I’m very happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to share my experience from the GED program at Foothills Family Resources!
To give you a little background information about me, I was born in Greenville, SC, but I grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico. My parents moved there to become missionaries when I was less than a year old. I was homeschooled, but my parents were both very busy with their work, so it was rare that they would have time to help me. Lacking the discipline I needed to do the work on my own, I quickly fell behind. The last grade I completed was 5th grade, and that became my biggest insecurity.
When I was almost 13 years old, my family received a serious threat from a drug cartel and we were forced to move back to SC overnight. I attempted to continue homeschooling, but my parents were busier than ever, scrambling to find new jobs and a house for us.
By the time I was around 16 years old, I had finally given up on school. My parents had skipped me through to 9th grade, but I never even made it halfway through. I was humiliated. I remember having a lot of ambition in the past, but then I found myself working in a restaurant 7 days a week with very little to show for it, and in my mind that was as good as it was going to get for me. Any job better than that felt like such a distant reality. It was almost exhausting just trying to imagine it.
When I turned 19, I tried going to two different GED schools, but neither of them helped me move forward. I needed something with structure and someone to guide me every step of the way, but those places didn’t offer that.
A year later, my dad suggested I go to the Foothills Family Resources (FFR) GED class. I already felt like I was at the lowest point in my life at that time and the last thing I wanted to do was deal with the embarrassment of another failure. It took days of convincing before I actually gave in and agreed to go just to humor my dad. I had been out of school so long, the possibility of actually passing the tests didn’t even cross my mind.
I walked in the classroom reluctantly and spoke with the teachers, Karen and Jeff. I could instantly see that they genuinely cared about helping us students. Throughout each class, I was amazed at how they gave each individual the attention we needed. They really encouraged us to ask questions when we had them and they pushed us to do our best. I found myself passing one test after the other until I only had one left before I would officially graduate! After being weighed down by this for so long, I actually felt completely capable of achieving this goal for the first time in years!
In between tests, I was also going through the Center for Working Families program that FFR provides, where my counselor, Paula, was helping me prepare for life after I graduated. She helped me with things like building a resume, practicing for job interviews, and setting a budget, among other things.
A few days prior to taking my last test, the Center for Working Families program Coordinator, Kristen, and Executive Director, David, called me into the office before class. I was nervous, thinking they were about to tell me that I was in trouble for something. Much to my surprise, I was offered a job instead! I was so happy, I agreed to it before they even told me what the job was!
My life has changed drastically since I walked into the GED class that first day. I’ve been working here for over a year now and I’m still just as thrilled being the Intake Coordinator for FFR as I was the day after I passed my final GED test. I’m eternally grateful to every single person at Foothills Family Resources for helping me along the way!
“Greenville County School District is pleased to partner with Foothills Family Resources to provide a satellite campus location for the Lifelong Learning GED program at Slater. Two certified teachers provide instruction in the four subject areas–math, science, language arts, and social studies–tested on the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) test. The school day is divided into subject periods so students receive instruction in each subject daily.
Many adult learners who seek to earn their diploma had negative experiences in a traditional high school setting. The teachers work to provide a positive, encouraging environment for those choosing to return to school. Most students enjoy the small class size and individualized instruction and the program achieves an excellent success rate for those students who stay and attend classes regularly. Many students sing the praises of the program citing actual instruction from a teacher rather than a computerized tutorial type program. The students are taught as a group, but as students either stand out for being advanced or needing remediation, individualized instruction is provided as well. The average amount of classroom time it takes for a student to graduate, one who comes regularly and is committed to working for the diploma, is four months, with some students graduating in a matter of weeks, and others who need to make up background skills they missed in a regular school setting taking longer .
In addition to academic classes, the students work to earn their WIN career readiness credential. A WIN certificate informs a potential employer at what workforce skill level the employee is capable of performing. For large corporations, this certificate helps the graduates stand out among other applicants who may not have this credential on their resumes. The preparation reinforces the work needed to earn the GED so it is a win-win program. If a student scores at least a silver level WIN certificate, in addition to a couple other requirements, he or she can apply to the state department of education for funding for the actual GED test. This helps most students who cannot afford the cost of taking the test.
A major component of the program is the partnership with Foothills Family Resources and the Center for Working Families Program. Transition coaches work one-on-one with students as they prepare for graduation. The coaches offer counsel in such relevant areas as money management, job interview preparation, and resume writing. If a student does not have the clothing that would be needed for a job interview, he or she can choose two outfits from the clothes closet (donated work attire) at Foothills Family Resources. On the days students meet with their transition coach, they are required to come dressed as though they were coming for a job interview. Many express pride in their own appearance and the pride is revealed in their bearing in class that day. Additionally, students have received free haircuts from a professional stylist and one student received help with obtaining dental work. She proudly returned to show the teachers and coaches her new smile.
The partnership between Greenville County Schools Lifelong Learning and Foothills Family Resources has been and will continue to be beneficial to not only the students but to the community as a whole. As graduates improve their lives and become productive members of the workforce, the cycle of generational poverty ends and the chance for prosperity is passed on to their children.”
Written by Karen Cleveland, GED Language Arts and Social Studies teacher here at Foothills Family Resources.