Client Success Stories

Meet CEO Client/Student Edmund Herrera

Making a Choice – Moving Ahead

SCOTT MICHELLE CEO INST(Submitted by CEO Instructor Michelle Clark – Men’s Facility in Lakewood)



“On July 29th, 2016, I arrived at ICCS and went through the regular screening process by taking the TABE test to see where I was in my education. After a long period of time being incarcerate, I already knew. I am very thankful for all of the staff here at CEO (Will, Michelle, Scott, and April) helping with GED classes, computer classes,and  allowing me to participate in the educational program here.

Passed Over in Corrections

Throughout my long term of incarceration, somewhere along the way I fell behind and was always passed over because individuals who came in the system with very little time were put ahead of me to receive education. Because of this, I fell further and further behind and I lacked the basic computer skills and education skills as well. Now, in the age of the computer, I am a lost soul trying find my way back into society, which will be a task in itself.

With the CEO educational program, I didn’t have to do it because I was released by a special education testing.  All I was required to do, per Federal guidelines, was to go up a literacy level. I choose to do the CEO classes anyway.

Overcoming the Barriers

Due to my serious substance abuse and head traumas, I am unable to obtain my GED and my literacy level will always remain stagnant. As I said before, I didn’t HAVE to do CEO classes, I chose to because I know I am behind on my literacy level. The staff chose to be here, not only to help me as they did, but to help each and every student who is lacking in education because they truly care.

I truly wish I could move forward with my education. Every day is a learning experience for and those four people I mentioned of the letter, care about us and our education. I have a great deal of respect for them and for what they’ve done for me in such a short amount of time. They got my literacy level up and, on my own, I will continue to move forward by getting into computer classes and by studying hard.

Believe me, you don’t want to walk in my shoes because they are a big pair of shoes to fill. Knowledge is power and it comes only through hard work  and I’ll continue to work had in all that I do.

So, I want to thank you again, Will, Michelle, Scott, and April for allowing me to participate in your education program here with CEO while at ICCS.

Thank you,”

Edmund Herrera

Beyond Instruction: Caring


(Submitted by Community Educational Outreach Program Director – Lexi Dozier – Program Director – Greeley)

Pflock, Lexi

CEO: I was sitting in the classroom the other day listening to one of my students, Bill, tell a very long and energetic story about being able to have visits with his children for the first time in a long time. When I found a small pause in the conversation I said, “I’m so glad you get to see your kids now! That’s great! But since you’re in class, we need to get back to work.” This is what followed:

Bill: Oh yeah, I forgot that none of you staff here care about us and our lives.

Tom (another student): Hey! Lexi cares. She cares about us and our lives. Seriously.

Bill: Yeah right…

Tom: No, seriously. She’s one of the only people around here who actually cares what happens to us.

In many cases, being “in the system” means CEO students don’t feel like staff members see them as an individual. Being a positive support in a sea of negative is what CEO is about.

It’s not just about teaching math and helping students find jobs; it’s about caring enough to remember to ask about a student’s recent surgery and how the recovery is going or help them prepare for a meeting with a supervisor to discuss a promotion.

I care about my students and their lives, and I do what I do because I believe in their abilities to succeed despite past failures. I will never forget what it felt like to hear one of my own students recognize my efforts to make him feel like he was worth caring about.
A CEO Client Success Story

Meet Patrick – Community Educational Outreach Client – Pueblo, Colorado

(submitted by the Pueblo CEO Staff )


Patrick is a wise cracker!

Patrick thinks everything is funny and everyone has the ability to laugh. But not so long ago, when he discovered that he would have to be in a Language Arts class, even though he had his GED, the lightness in the world dimmed in his eyes.

Patrick came to CEO with certain notions in his head, like, he had a GED already, so there was no need in improving any language art skills, and what was the purpose of learning anything about a computer, someone else always did that for him.

Dusting Off the GED

Needless to say, Patrick didn’t stay in that mindset for very long because he soon discovered that, yes, he did have a GED, but there were things about language mechanics that he needed to come to terms with and begin to appreciate, which he did as evidenced by his regular attendance twice a week to a Language Arts class.

Patrick was able to have a real appreciation for Language Arts and threw himself into his learning with vigor. He also discovered that knowing his way around a computer opened all kinds of avenues for him with regard to job searching, but also in personal ways.

Dedication to Studies

Patrick has always had a good attitude when around me. The proof that he is learning is evidenced by his regular attendance to class, his dedication to his class studies, his homework and by stretching his own boundaries and applying what he has learned to the computer. His computer capabilities has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three months, and I don’t believe he will leave the computer to others once he’s on his own again.

Now, let’s hear from Patrick himself:

“When first I entered CEO, I was not interested in it at all. I already had my GED, and I did not see the need for any type of computer skills, as my girlfriend has always done these things for me. Well, to say that out loud today, shows me how bad that sounds and how skewed my thinking was. In retrospect, I have come to realize that not only is it as important to me as being able to feed myself, LOL, but having computer skills and taking a Language Arts class has also been fun, as well as vital to any type of research I will ever need for the rest of my life.”
A Client Success Story

(The following success story comes from our Community Educational Outreach instructional staff in Greeley, Colorado)


Meet Angie & Stephanie

“My experience in the CEO class has helped me with my anger issues due to me not being patient. I also learned how to focus on what I’m supposed to be doing for myself as well as my future. I don’t give myself enough credit sometimes and without second guessing it, I passed my reading test, moving up two levels by the time I took my post-test. I think that the CEO teachers are very supportive, understanding, and patient in dealing with us.”


“The experience that I had in the CEO classroom was a good one. They’ve showed me how to do my resume and cover letter and helped me look for jobs on the computer. I had to take a math class and I enjoyed it very much. Erica made the class a lot of fun and reminded me how much I love doing math. CEO really helped me out a lot since I first got here at ICCS in 2015.”


CEO Clients Angie & Stephanie

CEO Clients Angie & Stephanie in Greeley, Colorado

A CEO Success Story

Greeley GradsSuccess stories such as Joseph’s are only made possible by CEO’s generous program supporters including volunteers and donors.  The CEO summer event “Summer In The City” will be a great opportunity for you to help adults-at-risk realize a whole new beginning.  Please visit our Event Page to purchase tickets for the July 26th event, make a donation or learn more.

Meet Joseph!

Joseph has been working toward attaining his GED for 6 years.  Even after working so hard for so long, Joe’s endurance does not falter.  This perseverance is more than partially due to his upbeat, grounded, and grateful attitude.

After just a short time speaking with Joseph, it becomes clear that one of his main motivations in life and learning is his children.  He says of their inspiration to him: “I’m doing this for my kids . . . they are so proud of me . . . I want my diploma to be up on the wall at home right next to their diplomas”.  At every stage of his learning, family has been the focal point and a great source of support for him.

As a kid, Joe did not attend school regularly.  On the occasions that he was present, he was usually under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.  Becoming a father and husband in his teen years only served to further distance him from his academics.  After one more try at the school environment, Joe realized that it did not suit him.  Not only was it not right for him, but also did not coalesce with his family life.  Being in school took time away from working the hours he needed to help support his family, so he left high school in order to become a better provider.

Providing for his family instead of going to school meant that Joe had to compensate for his illiteracy.  Working as a delivery man, he had difficulties understanding and finding addresses; street names were particularly elusive.  In order to ameliorate the confusion and avoid the shame he experienced, he would call his wife or someone close to him with whom he was comfortable, spell out the street name, and have the person on the other end pronounce it for him so that he knew where he was going.

It was not until he was incarcerated that Joe learned how to read.  In fact, he took great joy in school and learning during his time in prison.  “I couldn’t wait for classes”, he reminisced.  “I would listen to scripture on tape and read along while I was listening”.  He learned to be patient with the learning process, and that it is okay to ask questions.  The combination of lessons incarceration taught him and the skills he gained through education has significantly changed Joe’s life trajectory.  He now speaks to high school-aged kids about the consequences of drinking and driving and is heavily involved with his AA group.  On top of these many good deeds, his dream is to become a peer counselor through Jefferson County Mental Health.  This dream comes with the understanding that he cannot attain it without a GED; without an education.

Speaking to the feelings of discouragement that students often feel when working toward their diploma, his advice to others is this: “Learning has been a big blessing for me.  Keep trying.  You’re never too old; never too stupid”.  How Joe conducts himself in the classroom reflects this statement.  Full of questions and determination, he inspires others around him to share their minds and to keep working.  His patience, curiosity, good attitude, and steady familial support system make Joe’s journey a success story.

A CEO Success Story

Neither Rain – Nor Sleet – Nor Snow…..

Rider in snow

John was a Community Educational Outreach (CEO) client searching for work as all client’s are required to do as part of their transition program.  I met with John for a practice interview session.  I was pleased to learn that he had just landed a job in a Denver warehouse facility.

I asked him to share how his interview went for this job and here is his story:

“I was canvassing the warehouse district off of I-70 in West Denver, going from door-to-door to see what I could drum up.”  Most places weren’t hiring.  But I would still put in a request to fill out an application – and I would leave a copy of my resume behind.

Finally at what was to be my last stop for the day – I was departing the business on my bike which I take out on interviews to better cover the neighborhoods.  The business owner called out to me “Hey wait a minute!  Could you please come back in?”

John parked his bike, went back in to the facility and after a brief interview, was offered a job.  Seems the employer was impressed not only by John’s mode of transportation, but even more by the fact that John was plugging away on his worn and old mountain bike, in the middle of a raging snow storm!

He told John “When I looked out and saw you plowing through that snow on a bike  – I knew I found exactly the right person for this job!”

Learn more about CEO at our web site – and consider donating your time by volunteering or contributing to support a CEO determined client.

A CEO Success Story

Not Missing the Bus!

Catch bus

Client Sara had been on job search for about two months while at Community Educational Outreach.  She was concentrating her search primarily in the downtown area of Denver.  Sara shares this with us:

“I had planned my job search day as I always do, a few days in advance of my actual search.  I just stepped off the bus on Broadway, and I saw a coffee shop nearby.  I knew they would be very busy in the morning hour but thought I could just check to see if they were accepting applications.  I was told they were not hiring but that I could fill out an application.

“The employee behind the counter could not locate an application however.  She apologized and then quickly returned to work.  I remembered there was a another sister store in the downtown area so I hopped on another bus and went to that location.  They were not hiring either but I did fill out an application. When I was finished with the application I told them about the other store running out.  I asked them if I might take some forms up to that store.  They gladly passed me a handful and I was off.  I returned the forms to the other store, with one filled out for myself and then continued my search for the day.

“Then, about a week later I was again downtown to continue my search.  I passed by the coffee shop and decided just to quickly check in.  When I walked into the shop, the employee immediately recognized me and asked me to stay.  She went to the back room and came back with the manager.  She said “This is the young lady I told you about who brought applications from our other store.”

The result, the manager hired her on the spot!  Going the extra mile paid off in a big way!

Learn more about CEO at our web site – and consider donating your time by volunteering or contributing to support a CEO determined client.

A CEO Success Story

Workin’ at The Car Wash

car wash

Ramon had just embarked on his CEO job search about a week before I met with him to discuss his job search plan.  He had a pleasant surprise for me when we sat down to talk.

“I’ve landed a job!”  Ramon was excited.  On about his third day on search he was on the public transportation bus and passed by a very large and busy car wash/detailing shop.  Ramon had years ago prior to be arrested, had been the lead detailer in a similar business.

“I knew the fast pace demands of a good detailer and although I thought I would not be as fast as the younger employees, I believed I could still keep up.”

So Ramon disembarked from the bus and in short order located the working manager.

“I walked up to him and asked if they had any openings.  He told me that they really weren’t currently looking for car washers.  I told him I was fine with washing cars but what I really excelled at was detailing cars in a fast paced operation line.  Then I told the manager I would like to demonstrate my skills.  So I offered to work for a half day – on-the-spot.”

That got the manager’s attention.  So right there, Ramon was paired up with his best and fastest detailer.  The detailers work in pairs – one on each side.

“So what we had was a contest more or less and the first car came down the line.”

The result?  While Ramon didn’t quite have the speed of his competition – he was very close and his work was impeccable.  To top it off – after a few hours on the line – the manager learned that Ramon had supervised a busy detailing operation.  He landed the job and was on his way because he more than went the extra mile.

A CEO Success Story

2013 Was A Very Good Year!

Here are the results for Community Educational Outreach during the 2013 calendar year working with adults at risk in our Lakewood facilities.  Visit our Program Page to learn more about CEO.  Visit our volunteer page and our donation page to learn how you can make a difference.


  • 440 New Students Enrolled in 2013
  • 66 students enrolled for their GED (65 in 2012)
  • 25 students completed their GED (18 in 2012)
  • 242 new students signed up for SKILLS classes
  • 170 students achieved successful post testing (14 per month)
  • 354 CEO students obtained employment in 2013

A CEO Success Story

CEO Greeley, Colorado – Ben’s Story

Greeley CEO FacilityWhen thinking about outstanding students throughout my time with CEO, Ben is one of the first students to come to mind. Growing up, Ben didn’t have much support from his parents and school served primarily as a place for socializing. Ben originally stopped attending school in 8th grade and experienced strong feelings of frustration and anger during his first few months of studying for his GED with CEO.

Despite his struggles and setbacks, Ben excelled in the CEO classroom. In June of 2013, Ben completed his final GED test and earned his high school equivalency diploma. Upon completion, Ben said he “felt good for having done something positive in his life because it’s been pretty negative for some time.”  His friends were surprised and proud of his success.

Today, Ben still comes into the classroom to encourage other students. He tells them, “Just keep with it. Study hard and focus on getting done… Getting your GED might be what you need to prove to yourself that we all have potential to do bigger and better things with your life.”

It has truly been a pleasure for us to watch Ben accomplish his goal of earning his GED in our classroom.

CEO at Community Correction in Greeley

CEO at Community Correction in Greeley

Community Educational Outreach serving the Weld County area is located at 1101 H Street within the ICCS facility.  Services are limited to ICCS client only.  CEO Greeley provides adult basic education and secondary education, GED preparation, life skills and job search services.

Visit the CEO web site to learn more about our exciting programs serving at-risk adults in pursuit of a productive and rewarding life

A CEO Success Story

Jolene Moon’s Story

Jolene’s Story was written by CEO staff member, Melissa Robinson – Adult GED Instructor & Employment Instructor at the ICCS West Women’s facility

Jolene’s story, like many others, mirrors trials and tribulations. Jolene struggled with addiction, homelessness and personal relationships her whole life. “I didn’t know how to live, I thought everyone did it.” She received her GED in 1987 and up until 1992; she had no desire to change her living habits. That was until she discovered the Bible, Church and God.

JOLENE'S STORYIn 1992, Jolene was determined to change her life for the better and reading the Bible helped her make that change. Growing up, she didn’t have a supportive family and “lost my youth and adolescence” because of the choices she made. To this day, she reads the bible daily and has been part of church groups that have been tremendous in support, personal relationships and recovery. For Jolene, the Bible was “truth to my lies, light to my darkness because I was an empty shell.”

During her initial recovery, she took and completed a cosmetology class that was 14 months long, which took Jolene 2 ½ years. She studied relentlessly and at times, the going became tough but she never gave up. She also completed an office technology and business law program where Jolene earned a certificate. The class was 7 months long; it took her 14 months to complete. The class “did equip me enough to compete in the real world and gave me the belief that I could change my life.” Being the master of her own destiny was the empowerment she needed to continue her life in the right direction.

When told she would be in the SKILLS program for math, she was devastated. Earning her GED, being sober since 2004, completing a certification program and discovering purpose through religion; this was a personal and emotional setback for Jolene. Since then, Jolene has made the best out of the situation by studying weekly and completing her hours in order to post test. “The most positive thing I have going on here (ICCS) is my schooling.”

Life for Jolene has been a struggle, an uphill battle and she has had to work tremendously hard to accomplish the successes that many people take for granted. Although family has not been her main support, her parole officer took her under her wing and taught Jolene basic living skills like paying bills and living in an apartment. It was this or going back to jail. “I’ve been fighting for my life for so long; I’ve worked too hard to have someone take it away for me.”

A CEO Success Story

Meet CEO Client Jason
In Pursuit of the GED

The following CEO Success Story was submitted by Kim Harrer – GED Instructor for CEO at the Resource Educational Community Center (RECC) in Lakewood, Colorado.

Visit the CEO “Success Story” page to access the entire collection.

Jason, a practical and dedicated GED student, grew up poor with his mother, father, and 3 siblings.  While his mom was a college student for a time, she ended up having to drop out in order to work and support her family financially.  Jason recalls that he “had to share time [with his mom] with 3 other siblings”, which made it difficult to receive the proper support he needed in school and at home.

While he “loved elementary school” and liked junior high, high school was an entirely different experience.  Even though Jason played sports—a lineman on the football team—he was admittedly “lazy” and “didn’t care about going” to classes.  With his expected graduation date looming just 3 months away, he decided to drop out, knowing that “there was no way I was going to graduate on time”.  “The GED”, he concluded, “was a better route”.

After making this decision, however, he was dealt quite a surprise: the GED was not what he thought it was going to be! It took a lot more time and effort than he was prepared for.  That being said, Jason firmly believes that “the things I study for the GED are more applicable to my life than what I learned in high school”, and subsequently that the “GED means more than a [high school] diploma ever did”.  He feels that he is improving (test scores corroborate this feeling), particularly in science and reading.  He also notices that “I know what people are talking about more now than before” in social situations.  He can apply his knowledge to conversation and critical thinking.

GEDHis advice for someone taking the GED is to get a book to study with, “do what the book says—trust it . . . do tests if it tells you to to see where you’re at” adding that a student should “break down subjects into parts you can work on” to help comprehension and alleviate stress.

Jason is among many GED students this year who did not complete the full battery of tests before the end-of-year deadline.  Although he was disappointed that he could not finish before then, he has not been discouraged, showing up to class regularly and participating actively in discussions and lessons.  Jason is a student who makes his own success one assignment at a time.

A CEO Success Story

Meet CEO Client Christopher Medina

Christopher MedinaIt has been said that the desire to succeed has to come from within, and in the case of Christopher Medina this is clearly true.  Christopher’s family is originally from the San Luis Valley.  He grew up in a large family with 10 brothers & sisters in all.   Chris is currently 30 years old, but his journey started back when he was 16.  He was expelled from many schools in Colorado, and he never had the opportunity to get his High School Diploma, or GED.

Christopher decided to turn his life around and earn his GED.  Through his own motivation, he was able to take, and pass two of the five GED segments.  Later, as he was moved from one facility to another, he was unable to complete his goal because the resources simply were not available to him.  Earlier this year, he was scheduled to be released to a transition housing facility.  Of his limited choices, he was eager to come to ICCS because of the potential to complete his GED through the programs available here at Community Educational Outreach.

When Christopher came into CEO, I conducted his orientation, and his intake testing.  He immediately expressed his desire to complete his remaining three tests, and earn his GED.  Normally we would have a student wait at least a month so that they would have time to study and practice for their test.  Christopher was different.  His intake testing showed a high level of skills across the board, but more importantly, his enthusiasm and drive made him stand apart.  Once a month, the official GED testing takes place at our facility here in Lakewood.   That date was a mere three days after arriving at ICCS.  On Saturday March 26th, Christopher took, and passed, the final three segments of his GED test!

Inspired by Younger Sister

To be fair though, not all of Christopher’s motivation came from within.  His younger sister recently graduated from high school.  It was not easy, but her success helped to push her big brother to achieve his goals as well.  As Christopher said, “If she was able to complete something like that, then I thought I could it also…”  His little sister would look up to him and say, “Brother, you can do this, you can do this!  You are way smarter than I am! And you know what? She was right.  Now I can look back at her and say ‘I did it!  Thank you little sis!’” This makes Christopher the third member of his family to earn their diploma or GED, and he is quite proud of it.

Setting His Sights on College

Christopher’s goals for the future are clear and specific.  He wants to keep his momentum going and apply to Red Rocks Community College.  He has gone so far as to apply for a scholarship to Red Rocks Community College, and he is hopeful that opportunity will become a reality.  He isn’t putting all his eggs in one basket though.  His backup plan involves attending the Colorado School of Massage Therapy.  According to Christopher, those courses would provide him with a chance to support himself in a field that he would enjoy, and allow him to better himself and become a productive member of society.  Congratulations Christopher, we are all proud of you!

A CEO Success Story

Meet CEO Client Floyd Wood

floyd woodPrior to arriving at ICCS, Floyd was working off and on as an appliance technician and as a day laborer.  After he was plagued with an injury, Floyd found himself passing prescriptions for narcotics.  Floyd came to ICCS on July 1, 2009 after falling into an addiction that led him here.

Undetected Vision Problem Creates Life Obstacles

Floyd grew up in a single parent home that did not allow him luxuries the rest of us have had.  As a child, Floyd struggled with his vision, but his family wasn’t able to afford glasses at that time.  This led to many teachers and school staff believing that Floyd could not read or write.  In all reality, he could read and write, but couldn’t see the material.  This is when Floyd’s attitude changed with school.  He was placed in special education classes due to his “not being able to read and write” and told he was “stupid” by his teachers.  Eventually Floyd lost all motivation and in middle school he stopped attending.

Overcoming Discouragement

When he arrived at ICCS and CEO he was very nervous, but excited to start toward obtaining his G.E.D.  At first Floyd was very discouraged due to his test scores being so low.  However, he was able to overcome this with the help of tutors and CEO staff.  Floyd has been at ICCS going on three years and says that the CEO staff has been a motivating factor for him in obtaining his G.E.D.  Floyd was able to achieve his goal of obtaining his G.E.D. in 2012.  It was a long road, but in March 2012 Floyd passed his G.E.D.

Floyd stated that his most memorable moment since being at ICCS is getting his G.E.D. because now he can list it on his resume!  Having obtained his G.E.D. Floyd is approaching his mandatory release date this year in August.  He states that working with CEO has taught him to have patience, self-control, to read, to write, and he is excited to take that with him when he leaves.  This leaves the big question: What is Floyd going to do when he leaves ICCS and starts a new chapter in his life?  Well, he is going to move to Kansas to be closer to his mother and siblings, become an appliance technician, get his driver’s license, go fishing, enjoy life, and “shoot some dice”.  All-in-all, Floyd’s time with CEO has been memorable and successful!

Her is some advice from Floyd for future residents here at ICCS:

  • “Keep at it and if you don’t know the answers look in the back of the book.”
  • “Memorize all the right answers!”
  • “Look both ways while job searching.”

The motto that he has followed during his three years here is “One day at a time.”  With this being said, take it from Floyd, one day at a time and we can all achieve our goals!

A CEO Success Story

 Life’s Lessons
The importance of the C.M.A. 12 step program

Submitted by Christopher Contonilokas – CEO Client

We are people who normally would not mix. Nevertheless, there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. Some of us are Doctors, some are Lawyers, and some of us are even criminals. Hell – look at Lance Armstrong!

If a person has cancer, all are sorry for him or her and no one is angry or hurt. Not so with the addicts illness, for with it there goes annihilation of all the things worthwhile in life. It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer’s. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends, and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad and hurt wives, husbands, and parents-anyone can increase the list.

Addiction’s Grip

We know that while the addict keeps away from substances, as he or she may do for months or even years, he or she reacts much like other men and women. We are equally positive that once he or she takes in any substances whatsoever into their system, something happens, both in the body and in mental senses, which makes it virtually impossible for them to stop. The experience of any addict (meth in particular) will abundantly confirm this.

The tragic truth is that if the man or woman be a real addict, the happy day of stopping on their own may not ever arrive. The fact is that most addicts, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in substances. Our so-called willpower becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of a week or even a month ago. We are without defense against the first hit, shot, line, bump, or whatever you may call it

We addicts are men and women who have lost the ability to control our using, we know that no real addict ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals- usually brief- were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced that addicts of our type are in the grip of “progressive illness”. Over any considerable period, we get worse, never better. In some instances, there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse.

Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our using careers most of us could have stopped, but the difficulty is that few addicts have enough desire to stop while there is yet time.

Facing the Future One Day at A Time

We, who are familiar with the symptoms, see large numbers of potential addicts among young people everywhere. But try and get them to see it. As we look back, we feel we had gone on using many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. If anyone questions whether he or she has entered this dangerous area, let him or her try leaving substances alone for one year. If he or she is a real addict and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success. In the early days of our using, we occasionally remained sober & clean for a year or more, becoming serious users again later. This is the baffling feature of addiction, as we know it- this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish

This is my greatest lesson in life and it is ongoing to this day. This is why I choose to live life one day at a time, with constant thoughts of how do I better myself. Because without a better me I will never be any good for anyone else.

A CEO Success Story

Meet CEO Client Frank Trujillo

TrujilloFrank Trujillo is a 53 year old male that arrived at ICCS the beginning of June 2012.  When he first arrived, Frank struggled with his testing and reading levels.  He explained to us that he had dyslexia.  Frank used covered overlays until we could get him over to Gift of Sight to receive special glasses, and worked diligently with Alizay.

Dyslexia Takes Its Toll

Frank grew up in Pueblo, CO with 9 brother and 4 sisters, all from the same parents he added.  Frank’s mother and father were always very supportive of him and sent him off to school daily.  When I asked Frank about his schooling, he said he really enjoyed school.  Although he enjoyed school, he quit after 9th grade.  Frank stated that he quit going to school because of his inability to read.  I asked him if he thought he was brushed to the side or not given proper effort from his teachers, he said no.  Frank believed that his teachers were great teachers who just didn’t know much about dyslexia at that time.  He also stated that there were too many kids in class for him to receive that attention he desperately needed to obtain higher reading levels.

Growing up as a young adult without the ability to read was difficult for Frank, but he learned ways to get by.  He stated that when he would go out to eat with others, he would just order whatever someone else had ordered before him.  Frank said he was too embarrassed by the fact that he couldn’t read the menu.  Frank’s dyslexia continued to cause him problems for several years, including when he arrived at ICCS.  When Frank arrived at ICCS he was so frustrated with everything.  He thought he was going to fail out of the program because he couldn’t read.  Each client has to check the client computer daily to see what appointments and services they need to accomplish.  When Frank first started at ICCS he was unable to read those messages in his client computer, and ended up getting in trouble more often.

Reading For the First Time

Since receiving his new glasses, one on one attention from Alizay, working with tutors, and gaining some confidence Frank is a brand new person.  People around him can see the changes in Frank.  He is extremely grateful for everything he has received to get him to where he is currently at.  Frank can now read books on his own and loves it.  He is also able to use the computers on his own to job search daily.  Both of these things were not possible in his mind when he arrived.  Frank stated, “I feel like I’m a part of the world now!”  Frank also stated,”Now I can conquer the world!!”

Frank’s progress and accomplishments have been noted by several people involved in his program.  His favorite subject is Science, and now has the goal of obtaining his G.E.D.  Frank told me he knows that it is later in life, but he also wants to pursue college in the future now.

Frank said that he is very excited to have dinner and read the menu to pick his own meal.  When asked who he would have that dinner with to celebrate his accomplishments, he stated, “My 3rd grade teacher who used to take care of me.”

So going forward, what is Frank’s advice to others who may be in the same place he started in… “If I can do it, I believe anyone can do it and if there is help you just have to find it.”

A CEO Success Story

Meet CEO Client Len Walcott

Walcott 02When given the option of writing a student success story, one student immediately jumped to my mind. This particular student named Len had been coming to CEO for over a year and had impressed instructors with his dedication and hard work in attempting to complete his GED.  Normally our students struggle to get five hours of study in each week, but Len, with perseverance that few can muster, had been averaging twelve hours a week of GED study. His quiet presence in the classroom was a consistent reminder of the character traits that are necessary to successfully complete the GED.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

In approaching Len to ask him to share his story, I was a bit apprehensive. On numerous occasions, I had asked Len if he would like to write out some of his story to help inspire others, but Len, in his quiet shy manner, had always said no.  This refusal never really came as a surprise to me because when Len first came to CEO it didn’t take long to realize that he was plagued by pessimism and self-doubt. “I’ve been negative all my life,” Len admitted, and instructors knew from experience that even this statement might be a bit of an understatement.

Len had been struggling with depression and alcohol since he was thirteen, and as an adult, Len had come face to face with the fact that much of his life had been damaged by these perennial influences. Len admitted that the thought of starting over and going after his GED was daunting.  “I just didn’t feel like I was smart,” Len observed. However, as Len began to make progress on his GED studies, a gradual change in Len’s demeanor began to emerge. Instructors teased smiles and laughter from Len’s often downcast face, and Len worked on focusing on his successes rather than his failures. Over time Len began to joke about his pessimism, and he began to admit that he had overcome some pretty big challenges to get where he was.

After months of hard work studying, Len has now completed three of his GED tests; he only has two more to go. He also has completed his program at ICCS, and is transitioning back into the community with the hopes of working his way up in the auto body business. Len eventually would like to complete his GED, take business classes, and start his own muscle car restoration shop.

Winning the Mindset Battle

Although Len knows he still has obstacles to overcome, he now feels a sense of accomplishment and pride regarding his life and studies, and best of all his negative mindset is slowly giving way to new feelings of empowerment and self-confidence. Nowhere is this shift in perspective more evident than when I asked Len for the final time to let me write out a bit of his life story. Without hesitation and to my surprise, Len smiled and said he would be glad to do it. He finished our interview by saying, “You gotta have a goal if you are going to get there. You gotta have a dream.” And for Len, working toward completing his GED has been an integral part of reaching for that dream.

A CEO Success Story

Meet David CEO Client David Chapman
Artist Extraordinaire & More

Dan Chapman Self Portrait

Dan Chapman Self Portrait

A former CEO student and soon-to-be college graduate, Dan Chapman has become what he has always envisioned himself to be: an artist. Recently, CEO was able to catch-up with the very busy student and ask him about his work:

“On the question of why I create art, the answer is rather simple: it is a compulsion, a need, that I have always had in me. The art that I did in my younger years usually was realistic and dealt with social occurrences, or beliefs, that perplexed me. My art now is much different in that I am more interested in painting what I see, without judgment.

“Of course, I am who I am, and my art will always reflect, in color choice, composition, and
subject manner, the deepest part of my personality. I find that I am not overly concerned with the finished product. What I find magical is the process, which usually entails an inner struggle. In a sense, I am a slave of [painting], and I find it glorious.”

A CEO Success Story

Meet Wayne Rose
Hating Politics & Math – Loving the GED!

wayne roseWayne Rose is not your typical GED student. At 62 years of age, Wayne knows what he likes and dislikes. “Old cars, peppermint candies, and maybe the ladies, but cars take first over the ladies, that’s what I like.” As a student at CEO, Wayne has worked hard to
pass 3 of the official GED tests. He started with reading and writing before moving on to his most dreaded subject, math. “I hate math,” he would tell me in the mornings with a smile. But even though Wayne struggled he came every day at 10 am, eager to learn and willing to try.

Conquering Math

After 8 months of arduous studies, Wayne successfully completed his math GED test! The only problem was, now he had to move on to social studies… “I hate politics,” he said with
a smile as he prepared to venture into social studies. After only a few months however,  Wayne seems to be enjoying his studies.

One of his greatest successes in this area has been around politics. He has focused much of his studies around the presidential elections. He has decided, for the first time in his
life, that he will cast his vote for president.  Wayne reviewed both of the candidate platforms and has reached a decision about how he will be voting.

Beyond Boring History

Although he seems to enjoy this topic area more everyday, we still find Wayne sneaking into math class to use his newly refined skills.  Despite his struggles, Wayne has shown everyone what dedication and perseverance can do. He continues to join us almost every morning (when he is not at breakfast!), at 10 am sharp, to work on his flash cards and read about “boring” stuff like history!

CEO Staffers are indeed proud of Wayne Rose!

A CEO Success Story

Meet Paul Favela – Breaking Away

When Paul Favela thought about his future, he was filled with discouragement and disappointment. After leaving high school early, he became entrenched in the gang lifestyle, living a life where drugs and crime were typical daily encounters.  Though he knew there was a better way, he wasn’t sure he could successfully make it out of this lifestyle. Not many did, and he could only dream of the life his mom urged him to consider.

A Change of Scenery

As time went on, he did pull himself away from the gangs by moving to Colorado. He began to work in many low paying jobs to make ends meet and it was a difficult, lonely existence. He lived with the memory of a broken past, and a longing for a brighter future. It wasn’t until Paul’s girlfriend, Susan, encouraged him to get his GED, that he began to seriously seek change.

It didn’t take Paul long to determine that the GED classes around town were going to be too expensive for him to consider.  Instead of allowing this hurdle to stop him, Paul continued to search for a way to prepare for the tests. Then a friend told him about Community Education Outreach’s free GED preparation classes.

When Paul walked in the door in at CEO, he was hesitant but hopeful. Once he confirmed that our program was available at no monetary cost to him he was relieved. It was Paul’s time, however, that would be his “contribution” to the CEO program as CEO requires an attendance of a minimum of 5 hours a week. Paul did more than the minimum, he was consistent in his studying, and he always had a smile on his face.  Even when a member of his family was in the hospital and he was unable to make it for a couple of weeks, he continued to study at home, came back and quickly got back on track. He never lost steam.

Finding the Funding

Once Paul’s preparation was complete, he had another hurdle to face. He could not afford the $90.00 testing fees. Jessica Beckman, Director of Community Educational Outreach, provided the solution. She found a donor to pay the testing fees for Paul! He took his GED tests throughout the month of July and he was able to pass the first four tests with ease.

Paul left his Language Arts/Writing test for last, worrying endlessly about the 5 paragraph essay. Knowing that he didn’t want to let down his family, instructors at CEO, and the generous individual who provided the scholarship, he knew he had to give it a try. After writing countless practice essays, he passed the Writing test! Paul credits his ability to pass the test with the individual instruction and attention he received from CEO.

“We see many GED students come to us from our local community. It’s easy for them to get too busy with other demands in their lives, giving up or getting easily discouraged. Paul’s attitude and work ethic made the difference,” states Dory Dannettell.

Though his own motivation to obtain his GED was strong, Paul admits knowing that he had so many others behind him and believing in him, was just what he needed to push him to work hard and accomplish his goal.

A CEO Success Story

Meet CEO Client Lisa Lutz

Screenshot 2014-05-20 19.35.21“Sees the glass half empty” or “Sees the glass half full.” – People’s attitudes are often assessed with such a contrast. Lisa Lutz “sees the glass as overflowing!”

From the Streets to CEO

Prior to her arrival Lisa was stumbling through a life of frustration and set-backs. “I messed up so many times in my life before coming here, that now I am amazed at where I am today,” Lisa relates. Lisa tells us of a journey without a family network, without a home—a past beset with personal loss, drug use and then a felony. “I found myself in and out of trouble, violating my probation terms and heading in all the wrong directions,” Lisa reflects.

A New Direction

Lisa came into the CEO program with mixed emotions, and reservations about improving upon her education level. She had dropped out of school after sixth grade.  Lisa recalls, “At first I thought the CEO staff was pushing me too hard. I even had thoughts that I was being singled out because of my lack of education.”

Lisa continues, “Now, looking back I believe the staff had my best interests at heart.”  Since her arrival seven months ago, consider these achievements: Lisa raised her academic performance levels several grades, quickly achieved her GED, secured not one, but two jobs, is working 54 hours a week, became drug free for the first time in a long time, and will soon complete her ICCS program obligations.

And she adds, “CEO instructor Matthew Anfield was a great help for me. He showed me how to really understand the GED materials, and that was the difference for me.” She says that her math proficiency level went quickly from 2nd grade to 10th grade level.

Challenges Continue

Has everything become easy for Lisa? “I still have times when I have some doubts. There are days when I am not sure if I can keep going.  Then I tell myself, ‘You’re safe tonight.  One more day has passed. I have made it!’ She pauses and then exclaims “I love coming back here at night!”

Advice to Other Clients

How did Lisa make the transition from her past to her assignment at ICCS and her participation in the CEO program? “It was very hard at first. I would tell others not to get caught up with distractions.  This isn’t a ‘halfway house; It is an opportunity.”

What is Next?

Lisa will begin living independently. “I want to enroll in the Red Rocks Gateway Program to further my education. And after that, who knows?

A CEO Success Story

Terry Platt
Achieving the GED Moving On in Life

PLATT TERRYTerry Platt Reaches Life Goal!  CEO Client Terry Platt was a member of the June 18th graduating class at the “Celebration of Achievement” GED ceremony at Red Rocks Community College.  Terry was the oldest member of the graduating class.  He has since completed his program requirements at ICCS/CEO and has made his successful transition back into the community.

A CEO Success Story

Meet Ron Herd – GED Recipient

HERD RONNot many 48 year olds have dreams of starting over in life.  However, a new beginning is exactly what father of ten, Ron Herd, is experiencing today. While Ron’s road to success has been one filled with potholes and detours, his recent GED graduation from Community Educational Outreach’s GED program is providing him a new direction.

Substance Abuse –The Long, Hard Road Back

Ron stopped attending high school over thirty years ago when, as a 10th grader, he learned that he was about to be a father. After marrying his high school sweetheart, efforts to provide for his family put him in the company of co-workers who regularly used drugs. Soon Ron joined in.  Beginning a long history of substance abuse, Ron would seek to fight his addiction for the next 25 years. These years included many bouts of incarceration, providing Ron some intermittent drug-free periods, but he still struggled to stay clean.

Family – The Struggle Continues

It was not until the courts awarded Ron custody of his children that he was inspired to pursue a sober lifestyle. The importance of raising children led to nine years of sobriety, during which time Ron’s abilities as a quality mason skyrocketed his career in spite of his limited education. By all accounts, Ron was a success.  However, Ron’s career success could not counter the pull of drugs, and his substance abuse landed him back in jail for a 160 day sentence. In the jail, Ron learned about a local program providing GED instruction.

The GED and A New Beginning

When Ron inquired about the probability of completing his GED within 120 days, CEO Program Director Dory Dannettell quickly encouraged “If you work really hard, you might be able to do it!” Hard work, something that is not new to Ron, became his motto as he attended the program almost every evening, completing all five tests in the GED series within 120 days.

When asked why obtaining his GED was so important to him, Ron replied, “I did it for me.” Ron’s dreams for the future now include completing college business courses and owning his own masonry company. Witnessing Ron’s persistence and work ethic, the staff at Community Educational Outreach have no doubt that they will someday attend a grand opening for Ron’s Masonry business.


3 Responses to Client Success Stories

  1. Pingback: CEO Success Story: #8 | Community Educational Outreach

  2. These stories are wonderful! I’m going to share them with my GED students at DYC.

  3. Pingback: CEO Client Success! Meet Brandon | Community Educational Outreach

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