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Roger Richardson obtained a master's certificate in instructional design.


When my wife first told me about this program, I was like, “That is amazing.” Then when I found out more, I was like, “This is cool, but not for me.” I was like, “Having outsiders in my family and financial business… ah no.” 

When I got started I felt like this was a lot of work. I have to go to meetings with my spouse, then meetings with my children. Then on top of that, deal with everyday struggles of family life with six kids and a crazy dog and two cats. But little by little, the program grew on me. It's like the ramp, starting at the bottom and working your way to the top.  

Let's talk about the meetings: So first, starting with group meetings, and individual meetings, and then finding out what I wanted and needed. Meetings with the financial advisor, realizing our wasteful spending. Meeting with a counselor to help strengthen my marriage and myself personally. With all this and going to meetings, I realize that you must have a plan in place for everything that you want to work for.  

There were times I was like, What am I going to learn from this?” not realizing it wasn't just about me the parent, but my children. Learning a lesson and then having to give that lesson back to my children in a way that they can understand. And it wasn't just about the lessons it was about the family time, being able to complete a task as a family, play a game, have a meal and be together. I see now in my younger children the excitement of going to the City of Promise for lessons, games, and food. We will miss that quiet time away from home and its distractions.  

Again, I have learned from this that planning goes a long way, but not just planning, sticking to the plan. That's the hardest part. I can also say I was proud to see my wife get her first degree and see two teenage daughters set goals and to come out of their shells. To see my younger two show interest in pathway events.  

Not every goal was achieved in the program but it opened our eyes to what we need to do to get things done and the program has given us skills to accomplish those goals. I don't think the ramp will ever really have an end.  I see it going higher and higher. 


Crystal Johnson obtained an associate degree in pursuit of a bachelor's in education.


It's hard to believe that it has been 2 years and my time in the Key program is ending. These 2 years can only be described as worthwhile. I’ve spent the last two years actively seeking to grow and change into a better version of myself and as you can imagine it hasn’t been easy. Change is hard and it takes constant consistency.  

I started my two years off with one goal, and that goal was to finish school and become a teacher. I haven't quite met that goal just yet but, I’m over halfway there. I’m at the point where I can see the finish line and if I reach out it's as if I can touch my degree. The journey to this point hasn't been without its challenges. Simply put, going back to school as an adult is hard as hell. Needing to recall information that you haven’t used since high school is hard enough but having to access that info and work full time, parent, and meet the requirements of the dream builder program had me feeling all out of whack at times. However, my weekly meeting with Dawn kept me grounded and focused. It was during these meetings that I learned that if I was going to get my associates degree I would have to focus, get organized and keep making baby steps in the right direction. I’m not saying I’m completely organized at all but, I have learned that I need to do schoolwork daily and not wait until things are due to start working on them. Now that my workload has gotten even harder and I’m actively student teaching, working and parenting I have realized even more how important it is to have down time scheduled to do schoolwork and be organized.  

As I said before when I stated the Key program, I only had one goal and that was to finish school and become a teacher but, as i started to progress in the program i started to realize I had other goals and things that i wanted to accomplish. One of those goals was to get my children on the right tract for a better life and what better way to do that than education. With the help both my kids pathway coaches I was able to get my children tutoring through City of Promise and applied for my oldest two daughters to attend Tandem. Applying for your kids to attend private schools seems like it’s an easy process but its honestly really time consuming, and in the end there is no guarantee that they will be accepted.  

Another one of my goals came about after PACT time and that was to be healthier/eat healthier and lose weight. This goal was just as hard as my other goals. I had to learn how to be consistent to get up early to make sure i eat right and those health habits meant that I lost weight but so did my family. 

My last goal came into place because it was mandatory that program participants participated in therapy. Going to therapy helped me realize that I wasn’t healed from childhood traumas and that i had work to do if i wanted to be a better mother and person. In session I learned that it’s okay to put myself and my needs first. I learned to say No to people and most important I learned that two things can be true at the same time.   

As my time in the Key Program comes to an end I have come to the realization that its truly not the end its honestly just the beginning. The beginning of something new the beginning of having a better life. 

Frances Tibbs obtained culinary certifications.


When I first started the Key Program, I had several deaths in my family that occurred at one time, which was difficult. I had a rough start. I decided to push myself forward and to continue. The KEy Program tried to help with our mental health concerns by providing services.    

I tried to get my GED, took the exam, and got into the online math class. It was difficult because everything was online due to Covid. I did my work, but the teacher did not show up to the class to check or answer questions. This made things very difficult. I continued to push myself forward and regrouped.  

I started taking class at PVCC. I registered to be in the Professional Cooking Program. I enjoyed the classes and started off doing well. However, one of the classmates got Covid and the classes were moved online. I couldn’t get into my account. There was an issue on PVCC’s end and I couldn’t go online and do my work. One of the classes also didn’t have the textbooks available and we were waiting weeks and weeks to get a textbook. During this time, I also got Covid. My second semester, one of the classes got dropped due to students not signing up. However, I had questions prior and no one from PVCC would answer my questions. 

 Again, I regrouped and reset. I got into the Go Cook Program. Although, it was challenging, I pushed myself each day and I completed the program. I have earned my Culinary Arts Certificate. I also received my Hospitality Certificate and my ServSafe Certificate.  

I am proud of my efforts, and I continue to push myself to complete other goals. I have tried to get my Learners/Driving license.  

This school year started off rough, I had to deal with some issues regarding my son at school. I remain an advocate for my children, and I feel that they both are in a better place with their education. I am proud of the progress that both my children and I have made. I will not give up and I will continue to push myself on the next chapter of my life.  

I enjoyed being in the program and I enjoyed the parent group.  

Mary Faulkner obtained culinary certifications.

When I first began the Key Program two years ago, I had no idea what l was capable of with a strong and reliable team of support. I had no focus on a career, nor did I have belief in myself to achieve so much in so little time. 

 At the beginning I wanted to do Business Administration, but once I got started, I decided that wasn’t for me. But with the support of the Key Program, I learned to sit down, rethink and refocus without giving up.  I decided to look at myself and what I liked to do, so I enrolled into a Culinary Arts program at PVCC. I have successfully completed the majority of my courses and will soon be a Certified Professional Cook!! 

Myself and my family have gotten so much out of this program: How to spend quality time together, how to support each other, how to communicate better, and for me, just getting some ME time really made a difference for our household. With the support of the program’s staff, I have been able to send my son to college for two years, register my daughter for some colleges and find myself a career with all obstacles faced and taken down! 

Leaving this program I have learned so much about myself as an individual, a mother, sister, and friend that I can be so proud of, thanks to The Key Program. It has taught me organization, obedience, determination, motivation, and self-preservation. It wasn’t just about the family though. We took girl’s trips with the mothers and really made our own little sisterhood with common lives and goals. 

I would just like to say thank you to the City of Promise and its team for giving me and my family this opportunity. We really appreciate each and every one of you for the roles you played in this journey with us. 

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