The New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 and the Connecticut Nursing Homes Training and Upgrading Fund provides educational opportunities for 1199 members from nursing homes throughout the state of Connecticut. Training Fund programs are funded by the nursing homes, which have agreed to pay 1% of their gross payroll each month into the Fund for the length of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the union.

Employees who work at least eight hours per week (some CBAs require 20 hours) at a participating facility and have completed their probationary period are eligible for most of the Fund’s programs.  An employee must have worked at a participating facility for at least one year to be eligible for Tuition Reimbursement.

Current Training Fund benefits and programs include:

  • Adult Basic education
  • Career and College Counseling
  • Computer Skills Classes
  • National External Diploma Program
  • Transition to College and Careers
  • Tuition Assistance
  • Tutoring

2015 Nursing Conference


2015 Nursing Conference

2015 Nursing Conference


“This conference opened my eyes to new ideas!”

Over 60 nurses from throughout Connecticut attended

the 3rd annual Nursing Conference on November 17, 2015 in

Cromwell, CT.  The conference theme was “Nurses as Leaders”

and workshops included:

Caring for Residents with Mental Illness


Self-Care Strategies for Caregivers


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2015 Training Fund Conference


2015 TF Conference


Close to 200 1199 members attended the 13th Annual Training Fund Conference (formerly the CNA Conference) on Tuesday, October 13.  Here are a few things that members had to say about the conference:

“I’m an 1199 member and there wasn’t anywhere I would have rather been today!”

“I attend every year and every year I learn something new!”

“I found it very inspiring.”

“This was my first year at the conference and I felt like I belong.”

“Every year this is a day I take just for myself.”

“It is exciting, educational, insightful, and enjoyable!”

Workshops this year included:

  •   The Skin Care Fair
  • Caring for Residents with Mental Illness
  • Financial Skills for Working Families
  • Secrets to Living a Low Stress Life
  • Get Fit!
  • Write the Workplace: Creative Writing


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Hundreds of family, friends, co-workers, and Union leaders came together at the 2015 Training Fund graduation on Tuesday, June 16 to congratulate the 45 1199NE members who graduated in the course of 2014-2015.  Members earned their high school diplomas, certificates, Associate’s Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, and Master’s Degrees with the help of the Training Fund.  Speakers at this year’s graduation included:


Linford James, High School Diploma, Maple View Manor, Rocky Hill

Lurline Mullings, Long-term Care Certificate Program, Saint Mary Home, West Hartford

Dorothy Warner, Long-term Care Certificate Program, Chelsea Place, Hartford

Ian Fraser, Associate’s Degree-Nursing, Silver Springs Care Center, Meriden

Antoinette Osei-Bonsu, Bachelor’s Degree-Accounting, Fresh River Healthcare, East Windsor

Tanya Beckford, Bachelor’s Degree-Human Services, Newington Rapid Recovery Rehab Center

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“With Our Loving Hands”


Book release - Sharon and Advira

1199NE members Sharon Benjamin and Advira Linton had their stories published in “With Our Loving Hands.”  On December 11, 2014, 1199NE members, family, and friends came together to celebrate the recent publication of “With Our Loving Hands” by Hardball Press.  Fifty 1199 nursing home members had their stories published in this collection. The book is available at or   


 “In this book nursing home workers who care for the elderly and infirm tell their stories. These essential caregivers are too often ignored or disrespected. Yet their stories show us how their challenging work is so often motivated by love. Family members and friends who are admitted for long term care and perhaps, for the last stage of life, are comforted by these courageous workers whose loving hands hold them in their long, lonely night.”


 Tim Sheard, Editor, Hard Ball Press.


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2014 Nursing Conference


Nursing Conf. 2014

Over 80 nurses from throughout Connecticut attended the Training Fund’s 3rd Annual Nursing conference on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.  The conference theme was “Nurses as Leaders” and workshops included:

  • Being a coaching Leader
  • Nursing Assessment 101
  • Critical Thinking and Time Management
  • How to Write the Perfect Nursing Notes

Comments from conference participants included:

  •  “It touched every issue that I deal with on a daily basis.  Thank you!”
  • “I got to hear what’s happening in the field, and it gave me some incentive to think about what my next move will be.”
  • “It was very informative.  The subjects directly related to my job.”
  • “The workshops drew my attention to little things that are sometimes neglected, but make a lot of difference in the lives of our residents.”


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2014 CNA Conference

2014 CNA conference


Close to 200 1199 members attended the Training Fund’s 12th Annual CNA Conference on October 15, 2015 in Cromwell, CT.  The theme of the conference was “Taking Care of Yourself to Care for Others” and workshop topics included:


  • Change Made Easy
  • The Energized CNA
  • Get Fit!
  • The Changing Face of Healthcare Industry Jobs
  • Spanish for the Healthcare Worker
  • Behavior Challenges: Caring for Residents with Mental Illness

Comments from members who attended included:


  • “The information was awesome and eye opening!”
  • “I really look forward to this conference every year…it gives me a day off from the stress of every day life.”
  • “It gave me insight on how to deal with mentally challenged residents.”
  • “This conference makes me think positively about life and work!”
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2014 Graduation

Group Shot (4)

On June 17, 2014 over 200 members, staff, family and friends attended the Training Fund’s annual graduation recognition ceremony.  Close to 60 members graduated this year with degrees and certificates including High School Diploma, Certifications, Associate’s Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, and Master’s Degrees.

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Naomi Vassell

Naomi VassellThis has been a journey, from getting my high school diploma to almost finishing my Associate’s Degree with the help of the Training Fund.”, Naomi states.  Naomi Vassell, who will receive her Associate’s Degree in General Studies in May 2014 from Capital Community College, will continue on at Capital to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Social Services.

“I like school. I get anxious, with butterflies, but the challenges and accomplishments make me feel high!  Even if I don’t get a job in my field, I will have the satisfaction of knowing I accomplished so much—a whole wealth of knowledge.”

Naomi, a CNA who started working at Chelsea Place in 1994, first saw a poster about the Training Fund in the employee lunch room. She didn’t have her driver’s license at that time, so she took a bus to get to class. She is a long time 1199 member and has used the Training Fund for her high school diploma, “bridging” to college, tuition reimbursement, college tutoring and Spanish for the Healthcare worker.  Naomi finds the teachers she has had at the Training Fund and college, patient and willing to help.

She is a person who aspires to be a role model in encouraging others to use the Training Fund.  She wants her co-workers to know that the Training Fund “(I)s there for them to use.  She speaks of persistence when reflecting on her efforts—referencing Langston Hughes who spoke of “toiling when others were sleeping.”   “If you don’t use the Fund, the management will take it away.  And for those that think they’re too old—they’re not!”

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Vanessa Thigpen

Vanessa Thigpen
Vanessa Thigpen, an Arden House worker for 27 years, has been taking “Spanish for the Healthcare Worker.” She is a person who embraces multi-cultural communities and states, “I think the Spanish class is the best thing that the Training Fund provides because it gives you the basics to communicate with someone who is ill. I put a smile on and say ‘good morning’ in Spanish and it makes the resident feel wonderful. Before the Spanish class, I would have to get the maintenance worker to speak to my Spanish speaking residents; now I can do it myself. “
An Arden House worker for 27 years, Vanessa was there when the Union was brought in. “But we didn’t have the Training Fund, “ she said. “I was heartsick when we got our first contract because I knew the Training Fund could help expand our horizons. Once a person is confident, there’s no stopping them. “ Thanks to Vanessa and her co-workers, Arden House now has the Training Fund in their contract and they love it.
Active in her community, Vanessa participates in “Grandparents on the Move,” which meets as a committee concerned with the education of grandchildren. In addition, she encourages others to be persistent in school and use the Training Fund. “I was out of school for a while and rusty. The first time I took classes, I was overwhelmed, but failure wasn’t an option for me. The Training Fund let me try again. Vanessa recommends that people make the time to study for school, “otherwise you won’t remember. I make time for me even after working 12 hours.”
She is a licensed Phlebotomist through the Training Fund, and is currently taking Critical Thinking, math and continuing with Spanish classes.

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St. Clair Caines

St Clair Caines
St. Clair Caines has worked as a C. N. A. at Advanced Nursing of New Haven for eight years. A grateful Union member and Training Fund participant, St. Clair states, “Thank God for the 1199 Union. A lot of our forefathers worked (and died) for some of the rights that we have today–Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. We can’t take our rights for granted. If the Union wasn’t there, what would your life be like?”
In addition to completing the 20 week long Training Fund sponsored Phlebotomy Program held at New Haven Adult Education Center, St. Clair also participated in computer classes and Spanish for the Healthcare Worker Course. The (Spanish) teacher Kathy was so down-to-earth.”
When he was younger, growing up in St. Kitts meant surviving to feed your family. “You focused on pigs, sheep and horses; there wasn’t time to focus on studies at home. But when he turned 18 and took at tehncology program, he started to realize his potential. Today he full responsibility of being in charge of his education and future and becoming “your own person”. He encourages others to remember the benefits they have and be “real and authentic”.
Family life and going to school has been challenging. For years, he supported his wife’s efforts to get through nursing school. With six children it was sometimes a struggle to get to work and school. But through his “take charge” attitude, St. Clair persisted. “Knowledge is half the battle. Then we have to exercise by going and doing what we know. You live, learn, then act.”

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