On Thursday, July 23 the Londer Learning Center held their 22nd annual GED and job training graduation in the board room of the Multnomah Building. 14 students graduated that day and the room was filled with friends, families and other supporters.
Erika Preuitt, a Department of Community Justice district manager, was also awarded a certificate of appreciation at the ceremony for her value of education and advocacy for justice-involved people.
“I understand how when you reach your goals, it not only builds you up — it builds up your family and it also builds up our communities,” Preuitt said directly to the graduates. “What I look forward to after these graduations is the work that you’re going to do in your families and in your community to make us stronger, and to make us greater, and to make this city great."
The Londer Learning Center was started 22 years ago by an attorney, John Ryan, and a judge, Donald Londer. After seeing a need to help justice-involved adults get their education, the two decided to create a drop-in learning lab for those transitioning from jail, prison or a treatment program.
Today, the center offers a wealth of resources for those transitioning back into the community. GED and National Career Readiness certification, computer coding classes and connections to the construction industry are just a few of the opportunities for students.
For this graduation, the students’ ages ranged from 23 to 50 years old. Some worked for as few as two months, others spent nearly a year working towards their graduation day.
Amongst the friends and families were Multnomah County leaders; including Commissioner Judy Shiprack, Department of Community Justice director Scott Taylor and District Manager Erika Preuitt.
“Graduation is something that is not just for you, it’s for your families, your parents, your loved ones,” Shiprack said early on in the ceremony. “It sends such a strong signal for your future.”
Within the crowd were the parents and girlfriend of a particular graduate who came to Londer for his GED program. According to them, the road through Londer was at times a bumpy one — but worth it.
“Throughout the whole process you would see every time he did well, every time he passed a test, how much better he felt about himself,” the graduate’s girlfriend says. “That was the most important part of the process. He started regaining his self-esteem through the process of getting his GED.”
For Yvonne Flores, a program education aide at the center, the graduation symbolized more than just celebrating the past. “Graduation is really, to me, a beginning,” she says. “It’s the beginning of a whole new set of opportunities.”
The Londer Learning Center is open to anyone who is justice-involved within Multnomah County. New clients are often referred to the center by their parole/probation officer, community court or diversion program. For information on how to get involved, call 503-988-3466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.