Often in our lives we are faced with many obstacles that may seem impossible to overcome. Maybe our check doesn’t quite cover the bill balance for the month. Maybe we are stuck with no transportation. Maybe our kids need new shoes but instead of being able to go out and buy that pair of Jordan’s they want, they instead get whatever is available for them at the thrift store. We have all been faced with the impossible. 

At a class that I just recently attended, Connections to Success, I sat in a room every day for two weeks alongside other characters that were faced with obstacles that seemed impossible. I have a mountain of those ugly obstacles blocking my way from being successful. I’m 34 years old and I haven’t had a job in years. It isn’t because I’m lazy or just want to make excuses for myself. A year ago, I had major back surgery and I live a life in pain. That throws a wrench in obtaining a job that requires physical labor. I live in a small town, and by small, I mean that one could walk from one city limit sign to the other on the opposite side of town in a matter of 15 minutes. Needless to say, job opportunities are scarce. A solution to that would be to drive, but I have no vehicle. I have no way to get a vehicle. I have a 10-year-old son at home that depends on me, so I make money where I can, but there is in no way to save up for a cheap vehicle.

I wasn’t the only one in class that has obstacles standing in the way. Half of the class currently resides in a federal halfway house. All but two of us are felons. As it is well known, felons have a tremendously difficult time finding employment because nobody wants to hire a criminal. Never mind the fact that they served their time and repaid their debt to society. Never mind the fact that they have families depending on them. They will forever be known as that bad guy, not for the person that they are.

I am proud and feel fortunate to have sat in class and gotten to know each individual. Each one of them have their own stories, their own personalities that brightened my day. I looked forward to going to class every day to hear the laugh and jokes that my new friend John emitted randomly. I was always rewarded with a smile and a warm welcome from my buddy Ben. My table partner, David, is a character all his own. He is quiet, smart, very laid back. He began opening up a little more each day. He became my best friend of the group and we have forged a friendship that I hope will last for years to come.

Connections to Success brings people in, such as myself and those others in the class, that have their own reasons for struggling so hard on a desperate search for employment. The class taught us to recognize the value in ourselves and what skillsets we possess to better any company with our presence. 

Leavenworth Mayor Jermaine Wilson hosted the class as well as a host of instructors every day. They molded and guided us to become better people. This is an experience that I was sad to see come to an end. Connections to Success also generously outfitted each of us with professional business suits. Each of us was completely transformed into confident, empowered individuals.

Words cannot explain how grateful I am for this class or for how sad that I am with it being over. However, it definitely is not the end of the road we began to travel on. One of us already obtained a roofing job, starting at just about $20 hourly. Three of us are going to class to get our commercial driver’s license.

Thank you to every person who had a hand in this program and for making it a success. Also I’d like to give a special thanks to the mayor’s wife who cooked every day and kept our bellies full.

For more information about Connections to Success, visit www.connectionstosuccess.org