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
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 www.hardballpress.com or www.amazon.com
“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.
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:
Comments from conference participants included:
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.
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.”
“I love to learn”, says Sharon McGee. “I’m never ashamed or afraid to ask for help.” Sharon recently finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services through Springfield College, utilizing tuition reimbursement and tutoring services through the Training Fund. A CNA at Touchpoints at Manchester, (formerly Bidwell Care Center) Sharon spent her weekends for an entire year from 9:30am to 5:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays, completing her studies and studying while everyone else in her house was asleep.
She said, “I learned to drink a lot of coffee!” A mother of four, Sharon also took in her nephew to prevent him from going into foster care. “Sometimes I would have to bring my child to school with me.” Sharon explains that in the past, work would get in the way of her ability to go back to school. The temptation of the full time paycheck and picking up overtime and weekends put off her schooling until “they eliminated my position. They offered me sixteen hours or a pink slip. That’s what made me go back to school—I always wanted to be a social worker.”
She encourages everyone to always take at least one class because, “the business is always changing: here today, gone tomorrow. It could be a basic class. Without an education, you’ll never get the job you want. You might have the skills and experience, but without that piece of paper, you’ll be shut out.”
Her dream job? –to work at the Juvenile Detention Center. “I hate to see kids hurt, often, all they need is one person.”
Ena Ormsby, St. Mary Home, Leonie Parks, Avery Heights, and Beatrice Boansi, Kettle Brook Care Center, are CNAs, union leaders, and members of the 1199 Training Fund Board of Trustees. All three of them have used the Training Fund for various things over the years, and all three are currently in school.
Ena is taking pre-requisite classes at Capital Community College and considering a degree in social services; Leonie is enrolled at Manchester Community College and plans to earn her Associates Degree in Culinary Arts; Beatrice is enrolled in cosmetology school and hopes to open her own business.
Ena says that being part of the union “gives us dignity. It teaches us our rights. It also helps us go to school. Going back to school was something that I always wanted to do, and now I’m doing it…and I intend to finish my degree!”
Leonie says “the union helps us in every way. Being part of the union makes sure we have equal rights at work and makes us feel like we are human beings. The Training Fund helps us achieve our dreams by going back to school. I can now help my kids and grandkids with their homework in ways that I never could before. Plus, not only did I earn my high school diploma through the Training Fund, I will earn my college degree as well!”
“Before joining 1199, I was blind,” says Beatrice. “I did not know my rights at work, and did not know where to go to school. The union has opened my eyes in so many ways. Through the Training Fund, I received my high school diploma. Even though I had a diploma from Ghana, I wanted an American diploma. The Training Fund has also helped me improve my writing skills and my computer skills.”