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Support services that strengthen families

Ana Hernandez was at the Park Slope Family Health Center with one of her daughters when she spotted a flyer advertising the JET to Success Program. That is how Ana, a stay-at-home mom for 22 years, became a certified nurse assistant.           

The Park Slope facility serves a population that is 98% Hispanic and is one of the first neighborhood sites created in the Lutheran Family Health Center network. The health center is committed to the overall health and well-being of the community. The Lutheran Family Health Centers has built an entire system of support services in addition to medical care, to help people with everything from housing to insurance to literacy and job training.

After her youngest child entered junior high school, Ana enrolled in JET to Success. The program offers free training to become medical office associates or certified nurse assistants. It is a collaboration of the Lutheran Family Health Centers' Family Support Center, the New York City Council's NYC Works Initiative, the Consortium for Worker Education and other community organizations.

The first half of the JET to Success course focuses on training in computers, resume writing, job-hunting and workplace skills. The second half focuses on job-specific skills. "We studied the science of nursing and also got hands-on training using a simulated hospital room with beds, equipment and mannequins," Ana explains.

She completed the course with an A average, passed the state exam and became a certified nurse assistant in September 2006. Already, she has started training to become a senior nurse assistant with additional clinical responsibilities. "Lutheran is more than just a community health center," Ana says. "They give employees an opportunity to advance themselves and learn new things, and I plan to take advantage of these opportunities. I've learned that it is never too late to fulfill your dreams."

The JET to Success program links the needs of the health care institution with the cultural skills of its residents. This not only increases employment within the community but helps to ensure a culturally competent facility. In this case, commitment works both ways, strengthening not only the neighborhood, but also the institution and its staff.

The Lutheran Family Health Centers, based in Sunset Park, is a federally qualified community-based ambulatory health care system affiliated with Lutheran HealthCare. Governed by the Sunset Park Health Council, Inc., and serving southwest Brooklyn, LFHC is one of the largest health center networks in the country. To find out more about Lutheran's Family Support Services call 718-630-7186.

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