My name is Ellen Melko Moore and I am here to tell you a Story of Transformation.
I am one of the founders of the Triskele Foundation, a new Colorado non-profit that offers financial and emotional support for people who are getting their GEDs, the General Equivalency Diploma for people who have dropped out of high school.
Believe it or not, our statewide dropout rate is between 30 and 40%. This is a lot of people who are missing out on one of the essential tickets to play in American life. There is no state money for candidates pay for either the test ($150) or the necessary preparation to pass. At the Triskele Foundation we sell beautiful handmade silver jewelry, all proceeds going to help our GED candidates pass the test and transition to other successful endeavors.
But how did all of this come about? Well, that’s the Story of Transformation. Are you ready?
Once upon a time there were three friends, Ellen, Robin, and Toby.
These 3 friends met at Mile High Church in Denver and quickly formed a bond. One of the things they had in common (for you Law of Attraction fans) was that they each were transitioning out of an extremely challenging time in life. That’s the metaphysical expression—“challenging time”—but let us be clear: we’re talking about the kind of “challenging” that kinda feels like needles in your eyeballs while it’s happening.
For Ellen, depression compounded by prescription drug addiction had almost consumed her entire life. 3 years clean, she still wondered if she would ever return to any semblance of her former life as a college teacher and an entrepreneur. Robin’s rewarding career as an occupational therapist had been interrupted by carbon monoxide poisoning, leading to severe brain injury and almost a decade of being unable to care for herself fully. Toby had been felled by divorce, foreclosure, losing a house he had built himself. A custom cabinet maker and naturally gifted craftsman, he felt lost and longing to rally his creative energies, yet unsure of his direction and purpose.
In essence, like many people, we had been lost, and now were found—sort of. We had woken up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, we actually were good people, that Divine Spirit was with us, and that it was okay to start over and create again. But you know that feeling, when your heart’s been broken in the middle of creating something you loved? And you just aren’t sure if you’ve got it in you to go out and wave your brave little flag all over again? And maybe you should really just forget it for now and stay home and check out this week’s episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive? Yeah, that’s about where we were.
But Source had some other plans.
The more time the three friends spent together, the more it was clear to Ellen that Robin’s silver jewelry business needed a give-back component. Inspired by Tom’s Shoes — you buy a pair, Tom’s Shoes gives a pair to someone who is shoeless — the three friends decided to make a special piece of jewelry and use the proceeds to pay for something that would make a significant difference.
When Robin hit on GED as an underfunded cause, Ellen called the state GED administrator, Chalmer Naugle, to find out if GED candidates could use some help paying for their tests and their test prep. Chalmer, who has since become a good friend, asked, incredulous, “Is this a joke?”
So the answer was, yes, with high school dropout rates hitting all-time highs, getting a GED is a big need for a lot of people. In some states, you can get your GED for free. Here in Colorado you can get it for free, and you can get really good preparation for free, but only if you are first willing to be incarcerated. Our jails have some of the best GED programs in the state!
Next, the three friends needed a symbol—a powerful symbol of transformation—one that both GED supporters and candidates would be proud to wear and share. After some tinkering, they hit upon a symbol formed by two triskeles (“triskele” is a very old word for three sided figure): an inner spiral and an outer trinity knot. Together, these symbols indicate the power a person has—in each and every moment—to choose a new path in life, and the power generated in a community by the cycle of Prosperity, Education and Freedom.
The friends grew happier and more confident as they developed their business. The foundation began selling jewelry; people started getting GEDs; President Obama flew to Denver to congratulate them personally and present them with the Congressional Medal of Honor for Best Repurposing of A Former Crappy Life.
Okay, that last thing didn’t happen. But the rest of it did.
And now, because of this story, we are getting to watch the unfolding of some other pretty dramatic and moving Stories of Transformation.
Like the story of Mark, 39, who’s been hanging drywall since he dropped out of high school over two decades ago. Convinced he would never pass the writing part of the GED, he put aside his dreams of going to college. Well, we at the Triskele Foundation are diabolical hasslers, so we hassled the heck out of him and helped him get some good English tutoring until he scored in the 90th percentile for verbal skills on the test. He’s in his first semester of college at CCD this fall and got an A in Freshman English.
Like the story of Katie, 23, who was homeless, and called the Triskele Foundation from a payphone outside the Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver. Because we had just sold a pendant that afternoon, we were able to tell her to go sign herself up for the Emily Griffith GED prep program. Her GED scores were so high she got a scholarship to University of Colorado’s pre-med program.
Not every GED candidate is headed to an undergraduate degree. Kurt, who just passed the math portion of his test — I would fail this section of the test faster than you can add 16 and 25 and get 53! — has called four times in the last 3 days to tell us about getting into culinary school. Angelina has failed the math portion twice, but with her new tutor’s help thinks the third time will indeed be the charm. With the GED under her belt, she’s headed to a management training program in the retail chain where she’s been a checkout girl for 4 years.
I guess I’m telling you these stories for two reasons. One is to let you know that helping someone get a GED is one of the most rewarding investments you will ever make—your decision to buy a piece of jewelry or candy from the Triskele Foundation makes a genuine difference in a Real Actual Coloradan’s life. Please visit our products page at www.triskelefoundation.org for a gorgeous holiday gift that means authentic transformation—both for your loved ones and for your fellow human beings.
And second, just to let you know, whatever you do with your life, your decision to stand as an expression of the Divine makes a gigantic difference for everyone around you. We are all in this together, truly, and we are so grateful you decided to show up and decided to play. Thank you for the gift of you and the blessing you are in the world.
Ellen Melko Moore
Associate Director, The Triskele Foundation
Editor’s Note: We strongly encourage each of you to consider donating to The Triskele Foundation or to buying one of their amazing pieces of jewelry to support this worthy cause. Visit www.triskelefoundation.org today!