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Program offers free transitional help for veterans

Resources for getting out of poverty with free year-long course

Directions members and guides work diligently during their Monday meeting. Photo credit: Mountain View Community Center

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The military life is one of routine and structure, instilling practices and values into the hearts of servicemen and women in order to represent the United States military at the highest caliber. However, the transition from military life to one of a civilian nature can sometimes prove difficult and overwhelming for veterans who have grown accustomed to the ways of life as a soldier. Fortunately, programs like Directions at Mountain View Community Center in Edgewood provides individuals with the tools and skill set to navigate the workforce with ease and confidence.

Mountain View Community Center in Edgewood is a hub for nonprofit engagement within the community, offering programs for youth, seniors, low-income families and poverty stricken individuals. One of the center's flagship programs is Directions, a free year-long course that is "designed to help those struggling in poverty gain the resources they need to grow out of their situation," according to the organization's website.

Meetings are held every Monday, from 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. During this time, a free dinner and childcare is provided at no cost to participants. As if these weren't big enough incentives to attend, $5 gas cards are distributed at every meeting to aid with transportation.

The program offers to teach participants the necessary skills needed to navigate and succeed in the workforce, as well as general competencies related to money management, increasing personal resources and self-advocacy skill-building. These tools are meant to motivate and equip community members with the means to break the poverty cycle and provide an overall better quality of life.

"As students meet their goals, they gain the traction they need to stay motivated and self-disciplined to walk it out to the end," said Directions coach Cheryl Lynn Grunenfelder.

Additionally, Directions relies on volunteers - or "Guides" - to provide mentoring and motivational support for those enrolled in the program. Members and Guides come from different backgrounds, are able to offer insight and support to fellow compatriots, and although they are not there to "fix" problems, they are there to help develop the skills to do so.

"Many of the members involved in the program are looking for employment. Human resources and business is my background, so I am able to help with applications and services related to that," recalled retired U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant and Directions volunteer Martin Oroshiba. "It's amazing how many jobs are out there - people just don't know where to look."

Working with members of the program can be an extremely gratifying experience. "The most rewarding thing about working in the Directions program has been watching the personal growth happen. I enjoy seeing the hope that has been renewed for each enrolled student that stays the course and keeps their eyes on the prize," Grunenfelder explained.

For veterans, this course can prove vital while transitioning from the acclimatized military lifestyle. Often, vets suffer once they depart from the military, having trouble landing work in the civilian workplace. Directions seeks to impart wisdom in a variety of ways that can help individuals find comfort and security in the country they fought to protect.

Mountain View Community Center, 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Mondays, 3607 122nd Ave. E., Suite A, Edgewood, 253.826.4329, mtviewcommunitycenter.org

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