When Third Street Alliance went through its strategic planning process last year, agency leadership recognized economic advancement opportunities for women and families as a pillar of that plan and are now focused on putting those matters at the forefront of our work.
We recognize that it will take a living wage to end homelessness and poverty for women and families, which is what lead to a partnership with Gracedale Nursing Home that began in March.
“Individuals in the Lehigh Valley need to make between $15 to $20 per hour to live ‘comfortably,’” said Janice Thomas, Director of Homeless Services. “Being able to provide the opportunities for people to make a living wage, above the poverty line, and to sustain themselves is the only way to end homelessness.”
Gracedale, which is owned by Northampton County, is providing training for our residents and clients to become Certified Nurse’s Assistants. After successfully completing the classes and passing the test to become a C.N.A, participants are offered a position at Gracedale with a living wage and other benefits.
While COVID-19 disrupted the first round of classes, it created a new opportunity for our clients who found themselves out of work due to the shutdowns. In mid-April, the nursing home offered a free, 8-hour course to become a temporary nurse’s aide (TNA) to help with staffing shortages at that time.
“There was a true sense of fear that went through the shelter because serious decisions had to be made,” said Janice.
Families weighed the options between putting themselves and their children at risk or waiting to be called back to work. “Neither option was good,” she said.
Ultimately, 10 people completed the course, and four accepted positions at Gracedale including TSA Rapid Re-Housing client Jonathan, who jumped at the opportunity to take the course.
“It was right up my alley,” he said. “The job allows me to be more stable, and to take care of my son and myself financially.”
Jonathan had signed up for C.N.A. classes originally and was happy to do the 8-hour course to be a TNA, giving him more experience in the health care field, where he hopes to grow. When C.N.A. classes started again in August, Jonathan enrolled.
His goal is to go back to school to obtain a licensed practical nurse certificate, and the experience at Gracedale has helped him to further his career and to move in that direction.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” Janice said. “The employees will get incredible benefits and now have increased earning potential and a skill they will have forever. This partnership will move people from just having a job to having a career and economic stability.”
Third Street Alliance is actively looking to partner with other area businesses and companies to expand opportunities that help end homelessness and poverty for families in the Lehigh Valley. If your company is interested in partnering with Third Street Alliance, contact Executive Director Alisa Baratta at ABaratta@thirdstreetalliance.org.