We’re always so delighted in the GED program when our graduates come back to tell us how happy and successful they are in their lives. That’s certainly the way we felt when Raydale McJunkin, a 2006 graduate, surprised us when he came in to tell us about his life after graduation. Ten years is a lot of time that we needed to catch up on!

Raydale definitely has a special place on our wall of GED graduates. When he graduated, he was one of our graduate speakers. The Greenville News did a major story on our 2006 graduation and featured Raydale in their story. There is a large framed picture of this story, with a picture of Ethan presenting Raydale with his certificate, on our wall at the Learning Center. So, when Raydale suddenly appeared, it was quite an exciting event. We were definitely anxious to hear about all that had gone on in his life in the past ten years.

Raydale’s relationship with United Ministries began one day – over ten years ago – when he and his wife came to our Emergency Assistance program to ask for help with a utility bill. They received help and were also referred to our GED and Employment Readiness programs to help them with financial stability. Raydale earned his GED through our program and then, with the support of Employment Readiness, went on to get his CDL license and then on to enjoy a lengthy and rewarding career with some well-known trucking companies. His work and the people that he met through his work as well as the financial security that his work provided had greatly enriched his life and the lives of all in his family.

An injury caused him to have to leave his truck-driving career, but he had moved on to a new career working in human resources for a local company, training their new employees. He loved his new work and talked about how much it meant to him to be able to train and motivate the company’s new employees and to then see them become successful in their new jobs. He talked about how great his life is now and remembered his life before his GED, when his wife would cry because she didn’t know where their next food would come from or how they would pay their bills. Now they were financially secure, comfortable, and happy.

Then Raydale started explaining why he had come to see us. He wanted to thank United Ministries for all of his happiness and success. Having watched students succeed over the past thirteen years, I understood that, of course, the students accomplish their own successes. We certainly teach and support and care, but our students’ ultimate successes come from within them. Our major role is to believe in them until they can believe in themselves. So I began to explain this understanding to Raydale. He was the one with the abilities, the determination, and the work ethic. His reply was stunning, and he had such a depth of understanding of his own life and the impact that United Ministries had in helping him change his life. He knew what the help and support had meant to him in his life because, he said, his life had been so dark and United Ministries had turned on a flashlight for him so that he could find his way. He had certainly found his way, and we’re all grateful and proud of all that Raydale has accomplished. We’re also very grateful for his unique explanation of what United Ministries is all about.

Janey House, Adult Education Academic Counselor

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