50 Stories for 50 Years: Fred Lewis
Fred Lewis “came to a crossroads around 17 years old [when he decided] to not finish high school.” He felt unsupported by the people he was surrounded by and simply wanted to stop depending on other people, so he stopped attending school and went into the workforce. Over a decade later, his mindset on education changed when his family began to grow. “When I started having kids, I felt a responsibility,” Fred says. “I wanted to be a good role model.” His girlfriend (now wife) bought him his first GED practice book along with a card for United Ministries (UM), which ended up changing his life.
Fred started coming to UM in 2015, where he entered our Adult Education program. Fred seldom had time to sit back and relax – during this time, he worked two jobs, had two kids, made an effort to spend time with his fiancé, and studied. After about two years, Fred passed the GED exam. Upon being asked how it felt to pass, Fred explained that “It felt like a huge accomplishment, especially with the math, because of all the time I invested in it, and I finally felt I met my goal.” He went on to say that he felt proud to tell his kids, “I’m not a quitter.” Besides feeling good, having his GED helped his career goals. “It feels good to be able to qualify on more job applications and it allowed me to go to college,” he says. After graduating from our Adult Education program, Fred became interested in truck driving. Since Fred had also worked with and been supported by a counselor in our Employment Readiness program while he was studying for his GED, Employment Readiness sponsored him to go to Greenville Technical College to get his Commercial Driver’s License.
Life has been exciting for Fred lately. He “loves being a truck driver” since there is “always something new going on and you get to see new people all the time.” Fred got married last year and he and his wife are currently expecting. His life has changed quite a bit in the past five years and he stresses that life lately “has been a complete blessing.”