“Mutually beneficial” is the only way to describe the partnership between Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House and Prologue, Inc. In exchange for providing meeting space and clientele, Bonaventure House and its residents receive instruction from the high quality educators on staff at Prologue. Because each party meets an important unmet need for the other, this evolving relationship remains one of our strongest organizational ties.
Prologue, which is dedicated to educating low-income youth and adults, has its roots in the “freedom schools” movement of the Civil Rights Era South. It was established as a non-profit organization in 1973, and today it runs both alternative high schools and community based programs for adults. The community programs include a variety of education, certified training, employment, and health services at scattered site locations. Bonaventure House is one of these sites and hosts the “Living Life Through Positive Change” women’s group as well as biweekly GED prep classes.
“Living Life Through Positive Change,” led by Vera Washington, has been meeting at Bonaventure House for several years and provides an opportunity for HIV positive women to share their experiences and encourage one another through life’s challenges. In 2007, Prologue awarded Bonaventure House with a certificate of “Outstanding Organizational Support” for their contribution to this program. The group is open to residents and non-residents and meets the second Tuesday of every month.
This April also marked one year of GED classes offered by Prologue at Bonaventure House. Made possible by Prologue Program Director, Sherri Rembert, and led by Sandra Peterson, the GED classes have helped about a dozen residents receive personalized instruction in an array of academic subjects. “There is such an unmet need in terms of literacy and high school diplomas among our residents,” notes Marty Hansen, Director of Programs and Services at Bonaventure House. “This opened the door for them to come and get help.” The classes have open enrollment, meet for three hours on Mondays and Wednesdays, and include periodic assessments to track student improvement.
Residents have not held back their appreciation for Prologue’s services. When budget issues threatened to cut GED classes down to once a week, students put together a petition, rallied support, and presented their list of signatures to the Program Director. Their efforts were successful, and Ms. Peterson continues to be paid to teach twice a week. “Ms. Sandra makes the whole class worth coming to,” says LaShelle A., Bonaventure House resident. “She lets us be us, and it’s fun.” Ms. Peterson responds in kind, saying “It’s a joy. [The students] are enthusiastic and motivated, and that makes me enthusiastic and motivated.” It is exactly this reciprocal regard for one another that ensures the partnership between Prologue and Bonaventure House will be sustained for many years to come.
Devon Parish is the Outreach Coordinator at Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry. Her job is to bring folks into partnership with the organization through things like education, special events, and…blogging! She also loves music, dance, hot beverages and hikes of all varieties.