Kayli Carter was a college student when she first used methamphetamine, a decision that quickly took her down a very dark path.

Her addiction landed Carter, now 24, in the Glynn County jail for 17 months. From there she needed support and a new path. That is when she found the STAR Foundation and began learning new skills and found hope for a new life.

“I can’t even describe what it’s been like,” Carter said of her life on meth. “I’m talking about the darkest hole you can imagine. I was a good student in 2014, majoring in criminal justice when I was first introduced to meth. I had used other drugs but was new to meth. I was making good grades and then four months later, I was living in my car. Eight months from the time I started using meth, I was in the county jail with two felonies and a misdemeanor.”

The Glynn County Drug Court program referred Carter to the STAR Foundation, she said.

“I’m in recovery from my drug addiction,” Carter said. “Once I complete drug court, the charges will go away so I’m working to restart my life. I will do my community service at STAR Foundation. They (the STAR Foundation) are awesome and have helped me come out of my shell. The program has really changed me. I was filled with bitterness and anger. I came away with more than computer skills. I needed love, hope and support and they gave me that.”

The STAR Foundation is an eight-week program that teaches individuals computer skills to make them more employable as well as other life skills.

“I learned Excel, Word, and how to balance my check book,” Carter said. “I used to just spend money but in the end by doing it this way, it will help me save money. I have a 3-year-old daughter so this will help me. The program was very cool and educational.”

Carter also leaves the program with a well-written resume she is hoping will help open doors to employment where she can use her newly acquired skills.

Debra Williams, 61, of Eulonia, will also be part of the STAR Foundation graduation ceremony, but comes from very different circumstances.

“Right now I work as a caregiver and wanted to update my computer skills so that I could get back into the banking industry where I worked for 25 years,” Williams said. “I think it’s a really good program for people who can’t afford to go to school. The program helps you get back on track and they motivate you. For someone who has had problems, the program can help you.”

Williams and Carter, along with the other students in their STAR Foundation graduating class, will take part in a ceremony this evening at 5 p.m. at College of Coastal Georgia’s Stembler Auditorium.

“This particular group of students ranged in age from 24 to 68 and was also very diverse in their skill levels,” said Ellen Murphy, STAR Foundation founder and executive director. “The magic of STAR is how the students blended, bonded and helped each other regardless of their individual personal challenges. Even though the STAR program focuses on further education and workforce readiness, hard and soft skills training, it is also a life changing experience.”

The STAR Foundation’s next class begins January 17, 2017.

For more information, please call 912-554-0540 or visit the website at starfoundation.org.

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