The energy in the Masonic Temple was palpable. Families, friends, and graduates were taking pictures while getting ready to participate in a rite of passage, once previously not available to them, their high school graduation commencement. Each year, Alliance House offers its graduating students a commencement ceremony so that they can receive their high school diploma in full cap and gown, cheered on by family and friends. Each graduate told the story of their journey, each unique but with a shared sense of elation that this never-expected day has come. Educational dreams were crushed at an early age in for these people because of the effects of mental illness but, through dedicated work with Alliance House and Horizonte Training Center, their lives have changed course.
The theme of this year’s commencement was “Dream Big, Build Bridges and Expand Horizons”, and these graduates now finally see a brighter future for themselves where they can go far beyond just settling for what they can get.
The Alliance House Educational Coordinator, Terry Harrison, said “most of the people that first walk through our doors are pretty downtrodden; but, after participating in the Alliance House program for a year, they are ready to run out the door, emboldened with new possibilities because they now see that they have the power to create the future of their dreams”. As one of the other guest speakers and previous year’s graduate, David Ivy, so eloquently said, “the greatest obstacle to expanding our horizons is ourselves”.
In his speech, Leif Oldert, Executive Director of Alliance House said “in order to achieve our goals and expand our horizons, we build bridges by working together as peers to lift each other up so that no dream is out of reach. Regardless of where your life’s journey takes you, the Clubhouse community will always be here for you”.
After the speeches, each graduate received their diploma and had a few moments to share their story. Graduate Olivia said, “If it wasn’t for the Alliance House staff and fellow members, I wouldn’t be here today. They never quit on me and provided unconditional support without judgment”.
Following the ceremony, family and friends were able to partake in a catered dinner.
While the graduation commencement is an important ceremony for Alliance House members, none of this work would be possible without the support of our long-time educational partner, Horizonte Training Center. They have partnered with Alliance House for the past thirty years to provide our members with the opportunity to earn their diploma in a way that enables members to work at their own pace in a supportive and accommodating environment.
This year’s commencement was made possible thanks to the generosity of America First Credit Union and Squatters. Thank you.