Brent never imagined that he would be graduating – let alone with honors –from Kansas City, Kansas Community College’s (KCKCC) Technical Education Center. But he did, alongside his son, earning an HVAC certificate.

Brent was joined by fellow graduates Jonathan, Chanel and Neicy. All are part of the second co-hort from Catholic Charities’ St. Rita Center program. Launched two years ago, the program is designed to remove barriers, which keep people from the education needed to obtain livable wages.

Chanel knows those barriers well. She is a single mother of three children. With the support of the St. Rita program, she’s been able to further her education. After working closely with the community college’s Director of Technical Programs, she achieved a Machine Tech certificate.

The St. Rita program extends beyond attending classes at KCKCC. Participants must also commit to going to sessions offered by St. Rita including intensive financial education classes. Professional skills training for job seeking, job retention and job success including full resume and application service, interview coaching and principles of successful work behavior are also part of the dynamic curriculum.

Further assistance is provided to the St. Rita participants through Catholic Charities’ other programs and services.

“Part of Neicy’s wrap-around services included rapid re-housing so that she and her children would have a safe and stable place to live,” says Sasheen Cutchlow, St. Rita’s Employment and Financial Coordinator. “That assistance gave her the confidence to take the next steps and successfully attain a Machine Tech certificate.”

For Jonathan, the St. Rita program has provided an unexpected second chance. He attended classes while living at Shalom House, Catholic Charities’ men shelter. He remained positive and focused, securing his HVAC certificate. He is already gainfully employed at a company of his liking, starting at $20/hour. Best of all, he soon will be transitioning out of Shalom House to his own place.

“I am, and will always remain, in awe of this group’s power of perseverance and hard work,” says Cutchlow proudly.

For more information on the St. Rita Center program, visit online at: