Breakthrough Transforming Broken Relationships Into Flourishing Families

Breakthrough Transforming Broken Relationships Into Flourishing Families

Breakthrough Transforming Broken Relationships Into Flourishing Families

We must…launch a movement that encourages young people of all races to adopt a new cultural norm concerning education, entrepreneurship, hard work, faith, responsible parenthood, and the timing of strong family formation.
Ian Rowe, Agency

That’s a quote from Ian Rowe’s book, Agency, and the reason we asked him to join us for Breakthrough last month.

 

Breakthrough’s purpose was to allow us time together for a powerful discussion about family, community, young people, and relationships. 

We know the Success Sequence works, but how do we get this important information to younger generations so they can take advantage of this important “Pathway to Power” and understand that they have Agency in their lives?

Community. Relationships. Strong leadership examples. 

This means our bonds as a community are more important than ever. If we work as a team we can impact the lives of so many for good. We’ve put together a couple of videos from our event which will allow you to hear the wisdom shared by our speakers, like Ian Rowe, “who says that we have to teach young people that they have the power to make good choices in life and that they are not victims.” We hope you’ll take a moment to watch and listen, along with take action to make change happen.

If you’d like to get more involved there are some ways you can make a big impact. 

1. Take some time to learn how to have the healthiest relationships possible by signing up for classes offered by our team at GCO.

2.Talk to your children and other young people about the power of graduating high school, working hard, and marriage in helping them achieve their dreams. The Success Sequence IS the Pathway to Power.

3. Teach young people they are not victims and have control over the most important aspects of their lives. Ian Rowe’s four-point plan (F.R.E.E.) is a critical way to show young people that they have Agency.

 

Q&A: Andre and Takara explain how GCO’s Elevate class changed their relationship

Q&A: Andre and Takara explain how GCO’s Elevate class changed their relationship

Q&A: Andre and Takara explain how GCO’s Elevate class changed their relationship

Key Points

  • Andre and Takara Knighton have been married for 15 years. 
  • The couple was facing some challenges in their relationship, and Elevate turned out to be just what they needed!
  • Learn more about Elevate at https://foropportunity.org/elevate/

Andre and Takara Knighton stumbled across the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s Elevate relationship enrichment class purely by accident. But it was a wonderful accident! The couple was facing some challenges in their relationship, and Elevate turned out to be just what they needed. Check out this Q&A for more.

Q: Please introduce yourselves – your family background, kids, jobs, school, work, where you live, etc.

We are Andre and Takara Knighton. We have been married for 15 years and produced two beautiful and funny children. We currently live in Georgia but have lived in other states before deciding to reside here. We both have done social work in different fields, but after the pandemic we decided to focus more on our multimedia company, Vizion Image Media.

Q: How did you first learn about Elevate?

Takara learned about the program randomly at a county office. She was registering the car tags and while she was waiting saw a flier for Elevate. So she went home and started researching more about it.

Q: What prompted you to want to attend Elevate?

We were in a tight spot in our relationship. We had been allowing little things to bother us and had been a little distant from one another. We kind of lost ourselves in just life and slowly began to lose our friendship. So when Takara saw this flier and did her research on the program, we decided to just go for it. We went with expectations to try something new and honestly have set dates for ourselves that would also be a building block for our relationship.

To learn more about Elevate and how you can participate, visit:

foropportunity.org/elevate

 

Q: What was your experience like in the class? What did you learn?

 The class was eye opening. We saw couples who had been married for 20 years to newly married couples that also had the same stories. It was encouraging to know that there are couples—especially couples married longer than us—that just needed a little extra help to learn to reconnect. We learned how to look at each other again, but in a new light. The major thing we learned is how to stop and refocus our negative thoughts back to the positive. Sometimes when you have been with someone for so long you tend to focus on all the negative attributes of the person instead of the good qualities that brought you two together. Also, you forget to tell your spouse how much they mean to you and remind them of why you feel in love. Now we are telling each other almost two to three times a week what we appreciate about one another.

 

Q: Of the seven core relationship skills and qualities for success, which one did you find most impactful for your own relationship?

Definitely “Enlighten.” We weren’t dealing with each other in a healthy manner because we only focused on the past. We forgot that people can change and likes and dislikes can change. We still looked at each other as the 20-somethings we used to be. So we had to become enlightened about who our spouse was again. We had to discover our passions and loves separately and apart. We had to be more sensitive to each other’s feelings and listen. We had to rediscover “us.”  

 

Q: What are some reasons you can think of for other couples to attend Elevate?

We believe that everyone should experience this class because it does open your eyes to some questions that you may never have thought to talk about before. You can be married for two years or 25 years and still never think to ask your partner some of these questions. This class allows you to explore a new part of you, and the you in your relationship. People change over time and so does your relationship. So instead of ditching it because you changed, learn how to deal with the new you in your relationship and discover how you both can make the changes work.

 

Q: What are your future goals and plans?

 We plan on dating each other more and trying new things together. We definitely want to travel overseas again and take our kids on their first overseas adventure so they can learn about life and other cultures.



 

Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op: serving and enriching families in need

Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op: serving and enriching families in need

Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op: serving and enriching families in need

Key Points

  • The Georgia Center for Opportunity has partnered with the co-op to offer Elevate, our relationship enrichment class, to the families it supports.
  • Depending on a family’s needs, Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op can provide up to 75% of the groceries they need in any given month, on a monthly basis and help with utility bills. 
  • Prior to the pandemic, the co-op received an average of 6,000 assistance requests per year. Today that number has more than doubled. 

The Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry provides food and financial assistance to the Grayson, Snellville, and Loganville communities, and is one of six cooperative ministries throughout Gwinnett County that share this mission. The Georgia Center for Opportunity has partnered with the co-op to offer Elevate, our relationship enrichment class, to the families it supports. In-person classes are currently in the planning stage. 

Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op aims to “honor and uphold the Lordship of Jesus Christ by reaching out, in His name, to our neighbors in need. To the end that our clients will find encouragement, love, and hope and that the Kingdom of God will be manifest on Earth.” 

“We accomplish this by satisfying two hungers: the stomach and the heart,” says Laura Drake, director at Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op. “We understand that not only what we do, but how we do it accomplishes much more than we can ever imagine.” 

According to Laura, the why behind the co-op’s mission is simple: “Because God says everyone is important and we get to believe Him.” They put their mission into action by creating an authentic, supportive community that values every individual it serves.  

“I believe that we are here to be gap fillers,” Laura says. “There are many people who have so much need in a month, but they have only so many resources, so there’s a gap.” 

Depending on a family’s needs, Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op can provide up to 75% of the groceries they need in any given month, on a monthly basis. They also assist with utility bills, up to $300 total in a 12-month period. 

The co-op has a strong relationship with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, in addition to the support it receives from the community. Families who receive assistance have access to fresh vegetables, dairy products, meats, and a host of other nutrient-rich foods. For those who receive food stamps, the co-op provides non-food necessities such as laundry detergent, feminine products, and diapers–all items that can’t be purchased with food stamps, but can still be costly for families in need. 

Rebirth in the time of COVID

According to Laura, Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op recreated itself during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, it served families once a month. Now, they’ve built the resources to offer bi-weekly assistance. This has alleviated stress for many families impacted by the pandemic and its economic impacts, including job losses, business closures, and inflation. 

Prior to the pandemic, the co-op received an average of 6,000 assistance requests per year. But when COVID hit, their requests skyrocketed, more than doubling to 15,000. With the help of the Gwinnett County government, the USDA, the National Guard, and the community’s generosity, the co-op was overwhelmed with support so they could continue to provide assistance even in the face of rapidly growing demands. In both 2020 and 2021, the co-op gave over one million pounds of food per year. 

Even though demand isn’t quite where it was at the height of COVID, Laura says it’s beginning to rise again due to inflation and the current costs of gas and necessities. 

Laura Drake, director at Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op

“I believe that we are here to be gap fillers. There are many people who have so much need in a month, but they have only so many resources, so there’s a gap.” 


Laura Drake, director at Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op.

“I believe that we are here to be gap fillers. There are many people who have so much need in a month, but they have only so many resources, so there’s a gap.” 

Laura Drake, director at Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op.

GCO partnership: Looking toward the future 

In addition to food and financial assistance, Southeast Gwinnett Co-Op plans to offer families access to GCO resources that help them strengthen their families and relationships. This approach will take the ministry toward a more holistic program. The team here at GCO is currently working to nurture our relationship with the co-op until they return to their building this fall. 

Laura says she’s thrilled to expand the co-op’s offerings to further assist the community.

“We’ve spent years developing that relationship [with the community],” she says. “Now, we want to offer that foundation to organizations such as GCO and others in the community that have something to offer the people we serve in a space that is comfortable for them.”

Elevate relationship classes are helping couples recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Elevate relationship classes are helping couples recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Elevate relationship classes are helping couples recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Key Points

  • Elevate program: couples are enrolled in eight 90-minute sessions that cover the seven core skills and qualities for relational health.
  • Elevate is available free-of-charge to couples.
  •  Elevate classes provide — an opportunity for couples to practice better intentionality, to understand their partner better, and how to prioritize their relationship.

Today, couples face both internal and external pressures like never before. Many couples who weren’t struggling before the pandemic are struggling now, while those who were already in crisis now face an even worse situation.

Thankfully, there is a resource for couples in Georgia. It’s called the Elevate program and it’s a core part of the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) mission.

Through the Elevate program, couples are enrolled in eight 90-minute sessions that cover the seven core skills and qualities for relational health. Given the need for a remote option, workshops are available both in-person in 12 counties in Georgia — including Gwinnett, Henry, and Houston counties — and virtual workshops where couples can participate from home.

Topics covered include how to:

  • Be more intentional and focused in your relationship
  • Better manage stress in your life
  • Strengthen your connection with each other
  • Develop a greater appreciation for one another
  • Spend more quality time together
  • Deal with differences in healthy ways
  • Build support for your relationship and family

To learn more about Elevate and how you can participate in one of the upcoming workshops, click here.

 

To learn more about Elevate and how you can participate in one of the upcoming workshops, click here.

One of the best parts is that Elevate is available free-of-charge to couples. This is made possible through a federal grant through the Fostering Relationship and Economic Enrichment Project (Project F.R.E.E.).

There is a common thread in what Elevate classes provide — an opportunity for couples to practice better intentionality, to understand their partner better, and how to prioritize their relationship.

“I appreciate my spouse more as a result of the Elevate experience,” shared one class participant.

Another said, “The biggest thing we gained were ways to refocus the positivity in our relationship even when conflict arises and life is difficult.”

Still another couple shared that Elevate enabled them to communicate on a more intimate level: “We still have layers to work through but the Elevate experience has given us fresh insight to navigate our path forward.”

Here are a few of the reasons couples chose to enroll in Elevate:

  • Create better intentional dialogue between partners
  • Create a closer connection through communication
  • Meet other couples similar to us
  • Tips for understanding my partner better
  • How to handle stressful moments in a relationship

“What I love about Elevate are the techniques that they teach the couples when dealing or handling stressors in their life,” said Katherine Greene, healthy families program manager for GCO. “I also love the way it taps into helping couples understand how their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors can influence their decision making and physical health. Elevate is extremely engaging and makes every interaction applicable to the lives of the couples, their family, and community.”

AEI’s Ian Rowe brings his experience & knowledge to the Breakthrough event

AEI’s Ian Rowe brings his experience & knowledge to the Breakthrough event

AEI’s Ian Rowe brings his experience & knowledge to the Breakthrough event

Key Points

  • Mr. Rowe has emerged as a dynamic voice on education, upward economic mobility, family formation, the Success Sequence, and adoption.
  • The family Breakthrough event will focus on the importance of people of all ages knowing their ABCs — Attitude, Behavior, and Choices.
  • The event is on Thursday, August 25, from 10:30am to 12:30pm at Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta in Duluth, Georgia. Lunch is included.

There is a close link between the quality of your relationships and the quality of your work life. To further explore and explain this link, the Georgia Center for Opportunity team is honored to welcome Ian Rowe — senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute — to our upcoming family Breakthrough event focused on family and relational health.

The event is on Thursday, August 25, from 10:30am to 12:30pm at Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta in Duluth, Georgia. Lunch is included.

 

The family Breakthrough event will focus on the importance of people of all ages knowing their ABCs — Attitude, Behavior, and Choices. Martin Seligman, the father of human flourishing, says that to flourish is to find fulfillment in our lives, to accomplish meaningful and worthwhile tasks, and to connect with others at a deeper level. In essence, to live “the good life.” But “the good life” is impossible if your relationships are broken and you’re living in poverty.

Ian Rowe will address the link for us. Mr. Rowe has emerged as a dynamic voice on education, upward economic mobility, family formation, the Success Sequence, and adoption. The Success Sequence is the basic idea that those who follow a three-step process — graduate from high school, wait until marriage for children, and get a full-time job — are virtually guaranteed to not be in poverty. They also have a strong likelihood of entering the middle class.

Mr. Rowe is also co-founder of Vertex Partnership Academies, a new network of character-based International Baccalaureate high schools opening in the Bronx in 2022; the chairman of the board of Spence-Chapin, a nonprofit adoption services organization; and the co-founder of the National Summer School Initiative.

“When it comes to fighting poverty and creating opportunity, Ian Rowe is one of the most effective and eloquent leaders in the United States,” shares Randy Hicks, GCO’s president and CEO. “His leadership isn’t just based in theory and his expansive knowledge, but in his hands-on experience in leading and serving schools that are transforming lives.”

Randy will guide the discussion with Mr. Rowe at the family Breakthrough event. Topics will include:

  • What is the correlation between broken relationships and poverty?

  • Can you have one without the other?

  • If there were no broken relationships, would poverty exist?

 

Local schools and nonprofit, Every Woman Works, lend their voice at Breakthrough

Local schools and nonprofit, Every Woman Works, lend their voice at Breakthrough

Teacher by chalk board

Local schools and nonprofit, Every Woman Works, lend their voice at Breakthrough

Key Points

Speakers will include:

  • Michael Doyne, principal of Lilburn Middle School
  • Dr. Natalie Looney, principal of Summerour Middle School in Norcross
  • Kristen Hypolite, chief operations officer with the nonprofit Every Woman Works based in Roswell, Georgia

A key part of our mission at the Georgia Center for Opportunity is to turn broken relationships into flourishing families. Today, more than ever, there are shattered relationships across our culture — at home, at work, and at school. But even as the problems exist in our communities, we firmly believe that our communities also offer the solutions.

That’s why we are organizing a new Breakthrough event focused on community solutions to family and relational health. The event is on Thursday, August 25, from 10:30am to 12:30pm at Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta in Duluth, Georgia. Lunch is included. 

A major part of the effort will focus on the need to reach young people with relationship skill building while they are still in school. It’s still early enough to teach these students the fundamental building blocks of healthy relationships, so they can have the right attitude and drive their behavior toward good choices. While many of them have already experienced broken relationships in the home, it’s not too early to make an impact.

Along these lines, we will be featuring speakers who have vast experience and a deep understanding of these issues. 

 

Michael Doyne and Dr. Natalie Looney

The first of these is Michael Doyne, principal of Lilburn Middle School. GCO has partnered with the school to present four sessions of our Strengthening Families Program. At least 100 families have gone through this program, which has been offered in Spanish. The school has seen a huge improvement in the relationships of their students and amongst the parents themselves.

Another panel will feature Dr. Natalie Looney, principal of Summerour Middle School in Norcross. GCO is preparing to offer our Strengthening Families Program class at Summerour beginning in September.

Questions for both Mr. Doyne and Dr. Looney will include:

  • How have relationships at your schools changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How haven’t they changed? How are things still the same?
  • What led you to partner with GCO?
  • What approaches do you find at most successful at helping students and parents today?

Kristen Hypolite of Every Woman Works (EWW)

Another panel discussion will be with Kristen Hypolite, chief operations officer with the nonprofit Every Woman Works based in Roswell, Georgia. EWW’s mission is to equip women with the training and resources needed to attain self-sufficiency and achieve gainful employment. EWW helps women re-engineer their lives, understanding where they came from and the attitudes and beliefs they can change to improve their lives.

Questions covered will include:

  • How has the strong partnership between EWW and GCO strengthened the EWW community?
  • How has this partnership benefitted the women in your program?
  • What are you seeing in the clients you serve to implement healthy relationships skills training in your program?
  • Before the women enter your program, what Attitudes, Behaviors and Choices (ABCs) are you seeing?
  • In what ways have you seen the ABC’s transformed the ladies differently after attending the relationship skills training?