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

2018 Graduation


“Trust me.  Going back to school is the best thing ever!” said Amdrilla Erskine, Governor’s House, at the 2018 Training Fund graduation.  Sixty 1199 Nursing Home members graduated in 2017-2018 with high school diplomas, certificates, and degrees.  Graduates gathered on June 12, 2018 with family, friends, co-workers, and union leaders, to celebrate their accomplishments.  Graduates included the following:

  • High School Diploma
  • Certificates
    • Administrative Medical Assistant
    • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
    • Massage Therapy
    • Medical Assistant
    • Medical Billing and Coding
    • Phlebotomy
  • Associate’s Degree
    • Health Sciences
    • Nursing
    • Social Services
  • Bachelor’s Degree
    • Business Management
    • Human Services
    • Social Work
  • Master’s Degree
    • Social Work


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My Open Heart

Group shot Book release 001

Thirty-two 1199 members are now published authors!  Their stories are in “My Open Heart,” available at  On May 24, 2018, the writers gathered with family, friends, union leaders, and Hardball Press Publisher Tim Sheard to celebrate the publication of this new book.  Many of the stories are about their lives as healthcare workers and put the reader right into their world.  Other stories are about their lives as immigrants, or about their feelings on why it is important to be active in their union and their community.

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Congratulations, AMA Graduates!

Congratulations to the fourteen 1199 members for their completion of the Administrative Medical Assistant program at Capital Community College (CCC) in Hartford!  The 1199 Training Fund partnered with CCC on this program in Fall 2017 and on January 30, 2018, family and friends joined together with the graduates to celebrate their hard work and accomplishment.  Training Fund College and Career Counselor Susan Oliver shared a quote from Brigham Young: “Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world of work, and the power to appreciate life.”

The following students completed the program:

  • Novlette Bernard, Kimberly Hall North
  • Janice Blake-McLean, Saint Mary Home
  • Tshoni Bowery, Trinity Hill Care Center
  • Thelma Brown-Morgan, Avery Heights
  • Amdrilla Erskine, Governor’s House
  • Cheryl Gordon-Heath, Avery Heights (not in photo)
  • Gaynelle Holder, Avery Heights
  • Kenel Jones, Trinity Hill Care Center
  • Magdalena Kolc, Touchpoints at Farmington
  • Samantha Longman, Kimberly Hall South
  • Michael Owens, Salmon Brook Care Center
  • Derrick Prather, Salmon Brook Care Center
  • Marie Samms, Saint Mary Home
  • Shacaira Shelton, Trinity Hill Care Center
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2017 Nursing Conference

2017 Nursing conf.1On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, nurses from throughout Connecticut gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell for the Training Fund’s 6th Annual Nursing Conference.  At the end of the day, one nurse wrote that she planned to “Focus on her mind, body, soul and spirit to find balance…to be the best nurse ever!”  The theme for the day was “Nurses as Leaders” and Alicia Davis, the keynote speaker’s presentation was “Putting on the Oxygen Mask: Wellbeing Strategies for Clinicians.”  Through the day, participants attended the following workshops:


  1. Holistic Wellbeing Practices for Clinicians, innerOvation
  2. Nursing Documentation: The Changing Landscape Under the New Mega Rule, Maureen McCarthy, Celtic Consulting
  3. Revised Federal Rules for Providing Care to Residents with Behavioral Challenges, Lois Schram, LCSW
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2017 Training Fund Conference

Almena and iCare Crew-2
On Tuesday, October 17, 2017 over 200 1199 members from all over Connecticut attended the Training Fund’s 15th Annual Conference.  The keynote speaker was Carolyn DeRocco, Alzheimer’s Association-CT Chapter, and workshops included:

  • Ergonomics for Nursing Home Workers
  • Get Fit!
  • Write the Story Inside You
  • Resiliency: A Springboard Back from Financial Challenges

The conference is always a very educational and fun day for 1199 members.  Comments afterwards included:

“Thank you so much for making our body and soul better!”

“Last year was so informative, I couldn’t resist coming back.”

“I learned that as a CNA, we are to become more involved and have a say in patient care.”

“I’ve worked with Alzheimer’s for years and by far, this speaker was the most informative I’ve seen!”

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2017 Graduation


On Tuesday, June 13, 2017 family, friends, co-workers, and fellow 1199 members joined in the celebration of this year’s Training Fund graduates.  Eighty-nine 1199 members graduated this year, which is also the Training Fund’s 30th Anniversary!

Graduates included:

  • High School Diploma
  • Certificate
    • Administrative Medical Assistant
    • Advanced CNA
    • Barber
    • Certified Nursing Assistant
    • Community Health Worker
    • Culinary Arts
    • EKG Technician
    • Healthcare Sciences
    • Medical Assistant
    • ServSafe
    • Social Services
  • Nursing
    • LPN
    • Associate’s Degree
    • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Associate’s Degree
    • Business Administration
    • Liberal Arts
    • Occupational Therapy Assistant
    • Science
    • Social Sciences
  • Bachelor’s Degree
    • Biology
    • Healthcare Management
    • Human Services
    • Nutritional Sciences
    • Psychology
  • Master’s Degree
    • Healthcare Administrator
  • PHD
    • Higher Education Administration
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Meet Colleen

Colleen Rankine 2017 rev

Colleen Rankine, Kimberly Hall South,  8 years CNA

  • What Training Fund benefit are you currently using?

Transition to College English 101

  • What are your educational/training goals or purpose for using the benefit?

I want to start college to become a dietitian/nutritionist. Part of my goal is to be a role-model for my daughters who are 9 and 2 years old.

  • How is this program helping you reach your goals?

In addition to learning college English skills (reading and writing), it’s also allowing me to see if I can balance school, work and family through time management. 

  • What do you most enjoy about…What is one challenge you face in the class?

Because they keep the classes small, I get individual attention from my instructors, who are patient.  I enjoy having adults as classmates.

It is a challenge to get my homework done.  Because I work full-time and have to attend class onTuesday and Wednesday morning. I work a double shift every weekend.  I miss fun activities with my kids on the weekends.

  • What advice do you have for other members who are thinking about using this benefit?

If you have fears about going back to school as an adult, go to the 1199 Training Fund; they help you conquer your fears.  It’s not about passing or failing, it’s about learning.

Use it! It’s free!  And, it’s your bosses money– not even out of union dues!  It’s your employers’ way of telling you that they are in support of education and upward mobility.  They might not tell you to your face.  Even if you don’t want to educate yourself for goals, you may want to be able to better assist your children with their homework. 

  • What would people be surprised to learn about you/What is something you would like people to know about you?

I have an artistic side.  I write poems. At a younger age, I lost my friend and her two sons in a violent crime.  During this this difficult time, I discovered that poetry helped me get through my grief by expressing myself on paper. This is one of my poems:  

A Mother’s Pain

 By Colleen Rankine

 With streams springing from her sleepless eyes,

She greets the crescent moon just before it dies.

Her bare feet hurry along the grassy track,

And coldness bites her scarcely covered back.

Roosters echo their melodious song,

Breaking the silence while she journeys along.


Rivers run down her haggard face,

As she thinks of his final resting place.

By a stray bullet, her baby boy was killed;

Ten years today and the void cannot be filled,

Ten years and the wound is scarlet still.

Just as the sun peeps over the hill,

The grassy cemetery comes into view,

And she walks to his tiny grave covered with dew,


She whispers softly as though he can hear,

“My precious child, have no fear.

In my heart, you have a special place,

And your memories I’ll never erase

So, if tomorrow I do not visit

Know that I am with you in spirit.

 Copyright 2007

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Meet Hyacinth

Hyacinth Bewry

I am Hyacinth Bewry, and I have worked for 20 years at West Hartford Health Center, as a CNA in their Dementia Unit. 

  • What Training Fund benefit are you currently using?

Computer Class: Smartphones, Tablets and Netbooks on Tuesdays at 11am.  The class meets for 2 hours for 12 weeks.

  • What are your educational/training goals or purpose for using the benefit?

I want to be literate in technology because there are so many things that now replace using pencil and paper.  Anything you need is there– google search, directions.  People used to use a map, now we use the phone to GPS.  I want to focus on technology and become more advanced.  It’s difficult to not know.  You can depend on yourself more, rather than depend on someone else. 

  • How is this program/benefit helping you reach your goals?

It increases my knowledge of technology.  Now our computers are on the phone and smaller devices you can carry with you.

  • What do you most enjoy about the computer class?

I most enjoy learning how to download music, use apps for the pharmacy and get the weather

  • What is one challenge for you in the class?

The hardest part is the typing-getting your eyes off the keys! 

  • What advice do you have for other members who are thinking about using this benefit?

Get up, go out!  Help yourself with technology. I keep one day a week open to take computer class.   There’s a time when you’re going to need it.  I mean for yourself, your own good and benefit.

  • What would people be surprised to learn about you?

My banana bread is banging!   That’s what my kids say.  Also, I love to decorate; my bathroom, right now is pink and burgundy. Soon I will change my mind again and redecorate with a new color scheme.

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2016 Nurses as Leaders Conference

2016 Nursing Conference  rev

On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 1199 nurses from throughout Connecticut gathered for the Training Fund’s 5th Annual Nurses Conference.  The theme for the day was “Nurses as Leaders.”  Presentations and workshop topics included:

  • New and Resistant Organisms: A Focus on the Long Term Care Environment
  • Confident Decision Making: Critical Thinking Skills for LTC Nurses
  • How to Overcome Communication Challenges
  • Secrets of Living a Stress Free Life

Comments afterwards included:

  • “The conference is great. Don’t change anything!”
  • “It was very informative—I attend every year and I always learn good techniques to take back to work.”
  • “It is very educational, informative, and relaxing. It takes me away from the day’s stress and reenergizes me.”
  • “I went to school through the Union’s Training Fund. I am always invited to the conference and I feel honored to always attend!”

Comments on the workshops:

  • Secrets of Living a Stress Free Life: “Amazing!  This workshop has invigorated energy in me that I never knew I possessed.  I am grateful!”
  • How to Overcome Communication Challenges: “Great skills to have. This should be available to everyone who works in human services.”
  • Critical Thinking: “I was introduced to the awareness of making important decisions and handling our feelings during crisis situations.”
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2016 Training Fund Conference

2016 TF ConferenceOn Tuesday, October 18 over 200 1199 members, Union leaders, and guests attended the 14th Annual Training Fund Conference in Cromwell, CT. The theme of the day was “Raise the Bar: The Future is Now” and all in attendance took this theme very seriously.  There was a keynote panel entitled “Living Well, Today!” and conference participants chose between the following workshops throughout the day:

  • Roadmap to Wellbeing
  • Build a Play
  • Get Fit!
  • Virtual Dementia Tour
  • The Healthcare workforce: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Food as Medicine

Here is what our members had to say about the conference:

  • “I had a great experience.  While we’re busy caring for others, we forget to take care of ourselves.”
  • “It gets better and better each year!”
  • “The conference is always interesting and educational.  Everyone is warm and friendly.”
  • “There is a whole universe out there to discover.  The conference lets us reconnect and reenergize.”
  • “Every year I plan ahead…I request the day off to come because this is my favorite day of the year!”
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