5-week Mission Program pre-apprenticeship course to hold its first graduation on March 3

By Stephen Ide
ONE Neighborhood Builders

PROVIDENCE — Twelve people in Central Providence have taken the first step toward becoming community health workers.

The 5-week Mission Program, a pre-apprenticeship course sponsored by ONE Neighborhood Builders,  provides 40 hours of instruction and mentorship in a field that provides referrals for health care and social services in Central Providence.

On March 3, 2023, the students will graduate. Several will take the next step toward earning their apprenticeship and becoming full-time community health workers.

Tara Hayes, one of three facilitators in the class from the Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN), was leading the class on February 7, 2023, held at the Central Providence business support hub, Biz Bodega. Biz Bodega is an initiative of ONE Neighborhood Builders and managed by Innovation Studio Inc.

She raised questions about the students’ fears and desires, why they entered the program, and delved into their understanding of cultural differences and how those could extend into their professional lives, especially as CHWs.

When asked to express their reasons for wanting to become CHWs, the students had a variety of answers: wanting to be a voice of support and empower others, having a desire to help seniors in the community, and hoping to help others by sharing their life experiences, among many others.

CHWs are trusted, frontline neighbors or health professionals who have a cultural understanding of the area in which they serve. They work as links between their community and health or social service programs, helping people get access to health care or other resources with the aim of improving their overall health.

At ONE|NB, the corps of community health workers grew substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic and has become a vital link in Central Providence. During that time, ONE|NB established its CHW Apprenticeship Program and the idea for the Mission Program developed — all part of ONE|NB’s mission of addressing improving the health of Central Providence.

Upon completion of the program, pre-apprentices receive a $1,000 stipend and a certificate of completion and get the opportunity to enroll in a registered CHW apprenticeship program.

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