Life Learning Center looks to guide "at risk" individuals

01/26/2017 09:20 AM

COVINGTON – Three years ago, northern Kentucky native Kerstina Caggiano was struggling with alcohol and drug addiction and was looking to find a way out of her predicament.

Caggiano, found help in the Life Learning Center, a non-profit organization founded in 2006, which delivers a holistic, integrated continuum of learning and care to help ‘at-risk’ individuals to reach their highest potential through a 12-week series of classes and one-on-one counseling from a “life coach.”

“It’s compassion that you’re met with, instead of ridicule,” Caggiano said. “It changes your life focus and you get more hope. You see a life for yourself and for me, that was the first time I actually felt like that I was worthy, not drunk, not high, not doing what other people wanted me to do beyond my spectrum of moral compass.”

The Life Learning Center accepts low income “at-risk” individuals 18 years of age and older who are willing to commit long term to participation on a consistent basis. It is not a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center.

The enrollment process includes a zero tolerance drug test and requires candidates to have a roof over their heads.

Candidates then go through a 12-week education and care continuum which includes classes related to foundations for a better life, working for a better life, and studying the five pillars of growth which include physical, emotional, financial, spiritual and relationships.

In addition, each candidate will be assigned a “life coach” for one-on-one counseling and support.

After the 12 week period, approximately 86 percent of the graduates are employed by local businesses who work in partnership with the center.

After graduation, alums are classified as members and are invited back to the center on a regular basis for consultation and guidance, use of the fitness equipment, and participation in additional classes.

“They are so in tune with the individual and what that individual needs to get where they want to go,” Caggiano said. “You have to do the work. That’s what the commitment is. Do you want to trudge through your mud and muck to get to the sun?”

Director of Volunteers and Job Placement Mitch Haralson says that some northern Kentucky businesses, many in the hospitality industry, have partnered with the Life Learning Center and are eager to hire graduates from the program.

“I’ve had a lot of success early on pitching our organization to the employer and then seeing us as a certificate or graduate of completion as a feather in their hat,” Haralson said. “They’re seeing how we are helping them stabilize, how we’re giving them continued education through the program and through our membership, and using that as a positive.”

2016 Life Learning Center Candidate Profiles:

  • Average age of enrolled candidates is 36
  • 48 percent are between the ages of 30 and 54
  • 46 percent are men, 54 percent are female
  • 74 percent are white, 18 percent are African-American
  • 47 percent have a criminal history, 27 percent convicted of a felony
  • 35 percent lack reliable transportation
  • 30 percent lack stable housing
  • 22 percent have a physical disability
  • 33 percent have a mental illness
  • 21 percent report chronic health issues
  • 29 percent are lacking the experience and necessary qualifications

Since the programs inception in 2006, 1,266 candidates have been served.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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