The adult education opportunities offered at the Sisters of Providence sponsored ministry Educational/Family Services in West Terre Haute help real people with real needs.

One such person is 26-year-old Crystal Maners of Terre Haute.

Crystal got a rough start in life. She was passed around among relatives growing up. When she went to live with an aunt as a teen, she was told that she would not be able to graduate until age 21. So Crystal decided to quit school, start working to support herself, and at the same time study for her high school General Equivalency Diploma (GED).

But it didn’t quite work out that way.

“I was not stable enough at the time to hold down a job and continue to study,” she said.

Nine years after dropping out of school, a new opportunity presented itself. Her boyfriend’s mother told her about the GED preparation offered at Educational/Family Services (EFS) in West Terre Haute.

Educational/Family Services, located at 3850 U.S. Highway 150, right outside Saint Mary-of-the-Woods grounds, provides free basic education and GED instruction for adults and free after-school tutoring for children. EFS is a program of Guerin Outreach Ministries.

For the next four months, Crystal studied at EFS twice a week with her tutor, Director Penny Sullivan.

“When I started Penny said it would probably take a year and a half to get my GED. But I tested out in 4 months. Penny was great at teaching,” Crystal said.

Crystal was one of four EFS students to have passed the GED in the past year.

“Penny had a gift for teaching it and making it make sense. She could tell if I didn’t get something the first time and would tell me again or in a different way,” Crystal said.

Currently 15 adults are studying at Educational/Family Services. Two are working on basic literacy, one is studying for the Army’s ASVAB entrance test and the rest are working toward GEDs. The students range in age from 16 to 65. In addition approximately 30 children receive after-school tutoring.

“When someone gets their GED, they are becoming part of the majority and not the minority. It does make a difference in their lives because it opens up employment opportunities. A GED is vital for employment. You have to have an education to go anywhere in today’s society,” Penny said.

Crystal is planning to start fall classes at Ivy Tech. She has enjoyed helping elderly neighbors in the past, so she is considering work as a home health aide.

For Crystal, life has gotten not just an academic boost, but a morale boost as well.

“I feel I’ve always half-done everything my whole life. But I finally completed something. A lot of people take high school education for granted. It’s nice to know I did something right,” Crystal said.

Read more about Crystal and the GED program at Educational/Family Services.