Two years ago the Beacon of H.O.P.E. took on the challenge of helping people prepare for better paying jobs and a more prosperous future by offering a GED program. As of May 18, the Beacon of H.O.P.E.'s GED program will have graduated 33 students.
"The Beacon's program is called 'The Chrissy Fraham GED Program,'" Mary Lou Martin, coordinator of the GED program, said. "The fund was established by the Matlacha Hookers back in 2011. Miss. Fraham died of cancer in 2011 and the program was named in her honor."
"With the help of Gulf Coast Literacy, we were able to set up our GED program," Betsy Haesemeyer, director of the Beacon of H.O.P.E., said. "Their mission is to aid those who need assistance in obtaining a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or English as a Second Language (ESL) to acquire the literacy skills necessary to improve their quality of life."
Robert "Bobby" Nelson Peel, 25, was among the last graduating class. Peel arrived at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. about a year and a half ago.
"I came to live with my uncle about five years ago and one day about a year and a half ago he said I would be volunteering at the Beacon of H.O.P.E.," Peel said. "I started sorting clothes that were donated to the Beacon and now I also price knickknacks and sell furniture. I'm here 32 hours a week.
"How I got involved with the GED program is I was working one day and one of our older students said he was coming here to get his GED so I asked myself, 'If he's doing it, why am I not doing it?' and decided to start the classes. Ten months later I had my GED," Peel said.
When asked what classes he took and if the study material was difficult, Peel said, "It wasn't very hard for me. It was almost fluid. All of the things I didn't understand before I came to the Beacon came to me more easily. I didn't have to study hard and passed the test fairly easy. We have very good teachers here. I think it helped that we were allowed to have our own opinions."
In today's economy, many say it is critical to obtain a high school diploma or GED. Without a high school diploma or its equivalent, the likelihood of landing a quality job is often difficult.
As Peel said, "even jobs at McDonald's or Burger King requires a high school diploma."
Also, in order to further your education at a community college, university or accredited online university, a high school diploma will be required.
For those who left high school before graduating, the GED is the answer. The exam is composed of 5 tests: Language Arts and Writing, Language Arts and Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science.
Classes at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. are four classes per week - two on Tuesdays and two on Thursday.
The Beacon of H.O.P.E. is at 5465 Pine Island Road in Bokeelia. For more information, call 239-283-5123.