LIFT making a difference to many

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By The Staff

Finally, she had a reason to get off the sofa. Depression, fears, anxiety and the stress of life were too much for her. But with the help from folks at the Learning Institute for Tomorrow, Nina Hordych is off the sofa.

Hordych credits LIFT for helping her see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

She shared her thoughts in a testimonial on LIFT’s Web site, learninginstitutefortomorrow.org. Others gave similar testimonials.

That is LIFT’s goal, to help those with behavioral health issues – whether it’s mental illness or substance abuse – through eduction and support.

The program began 2004 with a $600,000 J. Marion Sims Grant. The intent was to give students an educational experience in a college-like setting. LIFT was formed by a coalition of agencies, including Catawba Community Mental Health Center, Counseling Services of Lancaster, Vocational Rehabilitation and The Listening Center.

LIFT offers courses in recovery education, health education, basic literacy skills, computer education and life enrichment. Courses include money management, creative writing, GED preparation and basic skills for employment.

According to the Web site, LIFT offers the chance to learn effective living skills at one’s own pace and to choose courses that help improve his or her life.

Kathy Wilds, executive director, Becky Love, curriculum coordinator and Lisa Williams, administrative assistant, are the reasons for LIFT’s success. They are highly educated professionals who want their students to succeed.

Student Pat Brice said the instructors and LIFT staff were supportive and took extra time to listen. Brice said LIFT has “opened some doors for me that I honestly believe otherwise could not have been opened.”

Dawn Blackmon echoed those sentiments when she said she now has the “I-can-do spirit and that I am not alone.”

LIFT has added other courses to help students find employment. One significant addition is the CareerReady program. Eight students recently met the requirements for the WorkKeys certificates. WorkKeys is a national program that helps students hone their skills in workplace literacy, locating information and critical thinking. The course combines classroom lecture and discussion with a computer-based program. Several local businesses consider the certificates in hiring entry level personnel.

LIFT will be holding its annual fundraiser “An Evening in Italy” at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Bradley Arts and Sciences Building at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

The event will have an Italian theme. The dcor will give the guests the feeling of strolling around an Italian piazza in Venice, Capri and other cities, while an Andre Bochelli DVD plays in the background.

There will be silent and live auctions. Items for the live auction include a framed piece of art, a Priccard watch, a week’s stay in the North Carolina mountains and more.

Tickets for the event are $50. Participants also have an opportunity to buy a $50 raffle ticket (a tax deductible donation) to enter a drawing for a $1,000 US Airways gift card.

In its effort to help people make positive changes in their lives, LIFT is continuing to update its curriculum. There are courses specifically geared toward young people and also for adults. Conversational Spanish will be offered. Soon there will a public service announcement about LIFT on local television stations.

Sometimes we can’t always choose what life hands us, but we can choose how we respond. LIFT equips those who need help with the skills they need to respond to those challenges. Read the words of the testimonials on the Web site to verify the program’s success.

“An Evening in Italy” looks like it will be a lot of fun. But more importantly, the money raised at the annual fundraiser will help give hope to those who thought there was none available. If you want to attend the event or find out more about LIFT, call 285-8805 or visit learninginstitutefortomorrow.org.