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Getting a Jump

DATE: Thursday, February 10, 2022

HCC Jump Start program finalist for national award

Mary Meffen instructs student Angela Colarusso of Holyoke in the proper method for conducting range-of-motion exercises on patients in her Jump Start class.

Editor's Note: This is a companion story to Family Pride, about Jump Start alum Jennifer Scott and her daughter, Maylene Rodriguez Scott.

HCC's Jump Start program is on the short list for an award in workforce development from the Bellwether College Consortium.  

After being nominated for the prestigious Bellwether award, Jump Start staff learned the program is among 10 finalists from a field of 700 vying for Bellwether awards in their category.   

"It's a testament to the program itself and the length of time it's been around," said Jump Start coordinator Aimee Funk.    

Jump Start is an entirely free program that works with people on state assistance who are looking for short-term training in marketable skills to land jobs that earn a living wage so they can transition into the workforce. The program offers training in high-demand jobs that are particularly marketable, including certified nursing assistants – the program has certified 1,000 CNAs – pharmacy technicians, culinary technicians, preschool workers, and school bus or truck drivers.  

In addition to the vocational training, program staff provide support to participants in areas of their lives that might be getting in the way of their training. If they need help with childcare, housing, food or recovery services, for example, Jump Start connects them to appropriate community resources.  

"If the student is stabilized in the major areas of their life, they will have a good chance of completing the program," she said.  

Once students have completed their program of study, staff continue working with them.  

"It's very much a wrap-around service," said Funk. "Once they're done with training, our staff help with placement and follow them for a year to make sure they are successfully integrating into the workplace."  

In its 20-plus years, Jump Start has enrolled 2,000 participants, placing over 70 percent in jobs.  

– LAURIE LOISEL

PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Thumbnail) Bryana Westbooks of Springfield listens to her CNA instructor, Mary Meffen R.N., in her Jump Start class at HCC. (Above) Meffen instructs student Angela Colarusso of Holyoke in the proper method for conducting range-of-motion exercises on patients in her Jump Start class.

 



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