by Lyric Otto
The Turning Point program at Whatcom Community College was designed to help people who are at a crossroads in their lives or just want to do something different.
“It’s for anyone in a transitional period,” said Robin Bailey, Turning Point director. “It’s amazing what can happen to someone in three weeks when you give them tools, open doors and let them know that everything about them is okay. It gives them freedom.”
Bailey said the program was originally started as a displaced homemakers’ resource but has since transitioned to include a much broader spectrum of people. Turning Point has several different workshops and programs offered to help individuals find the tools they need to succeed in the workplace.
Life Transitions, a 3 week program offered through Turning Point, helps people get back on their economic feet through facilitated workshops and classes. “Every person comes in with challenges, barriers and burdens,” Bailey said. “My job is to make them feel safe, help them break down those barriers and see that something else is possible.”
“I feel so much better about myself and what I can accomplish,” said Amanda Lint, 20, a Life Transitions graduate.
Lint graduated from the program on Jan. 25. She said she now feels ready to attend Whatcom Community College in the spring, where she will work toward an associate’s degree. Then Lint would like to enroll in Western Washington University, where she plans to pursue a degree in education.
The programs are not only focused on financial aspects. They also provide workshops on building self-esteem.
“I came into the program with no hope, no ideas and no confidence,” said Lint. “Now I feel like there is a million pounds of hope. I feel worthy.”
Self-esteem workshops are also offered independently from the Life Transitions program, which are free and open to anyone in the community. Their main focus is to help build confidence and work on effective forms of communication.
“It’s hard for me to describe the feeling that I have in my heart because of this class,” Lint said. “Your hard work pays off!”
Because of the intimate class sizes and confidentiality, Turning Point classes offer endless opportunities for personal exploration and growth.
“I received so much support in this class, more than I ever received in my life, so I was kind of sad to graduate, but then I realized that she [Robin] would be there the whole way,” said Lint.
Despite the inclusivity of the program, Bailey warned that “this class is not for everyone, you have to be willing to work hard and take responsibility. You have to be willing make changes.”
According to the Turning Point website, 60 days after completing this course, many graduates are either employed or enrolled in specific career training.
“It’s like a buffet,” Bailey said. “My job is to present as much as I can that could be useful or relevant to them, and they get to choose.”
Upon completion of the course, Bailey gives graduates a quote by Debbie Ford from The Secret of the Shadow: “The self you know is a limited part – a tiny speck – of who you really are. It is like a single pane in a huge kaleidoscope filled with thousands of colors. You have been committed to thinking of yourself as one pane of crystal red glass, when in actuality you are a thousand jubilant colors, all intertwined and dancing together to create magical images. Every time you turn the kaleidoscope in a different way, a whole new world opens up to you. By shifting your focus, suddenly you see things you never saw before.”