by Alana J. Mauger
Montgomery County Community College celebrated the journey of 36 individuals who successfully completed the fall session of its innovative Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on Dec. 4 during a ceremony at the Central Campus in Blue Bell. The fall 2014 cohort is the largest class since the program’s inception.
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. Several participants reflected on their journeys during the ceremony.
“After my first arrest, it became apparent I was trapped in the system,” said Ian Bullock, who aspires to work as a drug and alcohol counselor. “Now, I am clean from drugs, doing well in school, and recently started a job that I love. I learned from my mistakes. I love this program and everyone involved.”
As part of the ceremony, 11 individuals were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus Program. These are former POWER participants who are now attending college classes or are currently employed as a result of completing the program. For the first time, POWER Plus offered two classes during the fall semester: POWER Employment Plus and POWER Education Plus. Many students choose to participate in both.
Student Gail Tinneny participated in both POWER Employment Plus and POWER Education Plus while enrolled in the College’s Human Services program.
“The POWER Program boosted my confidence and helped me and my boys get in the right path in life,” she shared.
POWER Community Liaison Lori Schreiber presented a POWER Advocate Award to Eric Goldstein, who is retiring from his post as Administrator for the Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health.
“Eric has been our biggest supporter since we started this program in 2006,” said Schreiber, noting that Goldstein was an early advocate that individuals in mental health recovery can be successful students and employees, and not just patients.
Accepting the award, Goldstein explained, “the POWER Program is a collective dream—that you, as a citizen of Montgomery County, regardless of diagnosis, have an opportunity to go to college, make friends, and be part of a group.”
The College’s POWER team consists of Associate Professor of Human Services and Program Director Diane Harr; Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero; Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber; Employment Coordinator Tarsha Scovens; Faculty Byron Goldstein; Peer Mentor George Rohde; Administrative Coordinator 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 receive support from the Huston Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, the OddFellows of Philadelphia and other private foundations. However, the programs are in need of funding to continue next year.
Individuals interested in the POWER program may obtain a referral from their mental health or school provider or may self-refer. For more information, contact Lori Schreiber at 215-461-1151 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or email@example.com.