Stories of Success: Supporting Job Training for Entry-Level Health Care Workers

Through its support for programs like the Health Care Customer Service Training Program, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative plays an instrumental, behind-the scenes role in building a stronger workforce. We are deeply committed to helping low-income workers improve their marketable skills, secure higher paying jobs and achieve economic security for their families.

At The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, our investment in workforce development initiatives extends beyond providing critical financial support through grants. We bring together public and private partners, and offer capacity building resources and peer learning opportunities to foster effective, sustainable workforce programs. Together, we are building a stronger workforce. Community of Hope provides an array of critical resources to homeless and low-income families and individuals in Washington, DC. In January 2014, they opened the on way Health and Resource Center in the historic Bellevue neighborhood east of the Anacostia River.

While planning the Conway Center, Community of Hope recognized that in addition to access to health care services, neighborhood residents needed jobs – and job training. As a health care provider in Ward 8, which has historically experienced high rates of poverty and unemployment, they knew training would enable individuals to enhance their skills and find employment. Specifically, Community of Hope recognized the skills gap that exists for entry-level job seekers in the health care industry. While area residents struggle to secure well-paying jobs, employers seek talented individuals with customer service experience and office skills. The Community Foundation’s Workforce Development Collaborative invested critical seed money that allowed Community of Hope to conduct a feasibility study and develop a job-training curriculum before launching the Health Care Customer Service Training Program. The program, designed to build career pathways for entry-level health care workers in hospitals and community health centers, focuses on skills development: communication tools, conflict resolution strategies, stress management and problem solving. The 30-hour curriculum incorporates intensive role-play, mock interviews and team exercises to provide practical job skills. The students learn hands-on how to manage real-life health care scenarios, including how to stay calm when patients are frustrated, communicate clearly with patients who speak English as a second language, and follow safety protocol in a crisis.

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Community of Hope is committed to connecting individuals to skills training and to career opportunities. The organization continues to seek partners, such as colleges or institutions that provide technical skills training, and to build relationships with potential employers that can provide students with paid internships and on-the-job training. Together, the Community Foundation and Community of Hope are creating opportunities for Ward 8 residents to advance their careers and positively change their lives.

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BEVERLY BYNUM
AGE: 67
JOB STATUS: INFORMATION DESK RECEPTIONIST, COMMUNITY OF HOPE

Beverly Bynum moved to Washington six years ago, and after a two-year job search, she had almost given up. Beverly has extensive clerical experience in medical billing, but in her late 60s, she felt frustrated that employers didn’t seem interested. “I’m not young, bushy-tailed and bright-eyed… I was discouraged because of my age.” Then Beverly saw a poster advertising Community of Hope’s Health Care Customer Service Training Program. “I called. I applied. And here I am.” Beverly beams about her new job. The best part, she says, “I get to be part of a place that really gives to my community.” Today, Beverly works full-time as an Information Desk Receptionist at the Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center in Ward 8.

“I knew this opportunity was the avenue I needed to change things… And now, when I walk to work in the morning, I feel joy. My job makes me feel joy.