Grass Valley One-Stop Shop expands services for Calworks recipients
Jeanne Johnston was a certified nursing assistant in Grass Valley for 13 years.
She never planned to seek federal assistance, but after caring for her ailing mother in Kansas, her CNA license expired.
When the mother of two returned to Grass Valley, her husband quit his truck driving job and she had no other options, as work could not be found.
Johnston has since refocused her life through the Workforce Training Center, a new service for CalWORKs recipients provided through the Grass Valley One-Stop Business and Career Center.
She attended a six-week retail training course at the center and plans to attend a six-week CNA class at the College of Medical Arts’ Auburn campus.
The training center is part of One-Stop’s expanded services, which include assessments, workshops and group training programs, when previously it focused solely on work experience and job placement.
Those who use the center must be referred by county social services.
“Our entire purpose is to help individuals not just gain jobs but be successful on the job,” said Mary Kober, special projects manager for One-Stop.
“We deal with all the aspects of a person’s life that are important to do a successful job search — health and wellness, conflict resolution, values, communication skills, time management and work with individuals to look at removing any barriers that might be in the way.”
The center also offers two training programs — the customer service course that Johnston participated in, and Workforce One, a hands-on landscaping, horticulture and woodworking program.
Every participant in the workforce training center is required to put in a certain number of hours, either in the form of community service projects, which the center is seeking involvement with, or through landscaping design and maintenance services.
Johnston said she learned useful skills.
“This retail class has been really helpful. I’ve actually learned a lot that goes toward my CNA, like customer service,” said Johnston, a mother of a 12- and 15-year-old.
“There’s a lot of transferable skills, and it makes it very fun.”
The classes allow the opportunity to actively work toward something productive, Johnston said.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot more than I planned to,” she said. “It didn’t seem like it was really going to be helpful, but it really has been. It makes you feel good about yourself that you’re accomplishing stuff while working toward (your) goal.”
Johnston said she looks forward to getting back to the CNA work she loves.
“It’s exciting for me,” she said. “I love taking care of the elderly and listening to stories and helping them be as independent as possible.”
Johnston said initially applying for aid was uncomfortable and embarrassing, but she is grateful for the services.
Those who work at the center have been friendly, helpful and welcoming, she added, which was a refreshing change from some people who negatively judged her for her situation.
“There are people who abuse the system, which is unfortunate, but the ones I’ve met here are more about ‘Let’s get done what I need to get done,’” Johnston said.
“We’re here to get our feet underneath us and get us moving.”
Despite the financial challenges, Johnston’s family remains intact and as close as ever, she said.
“There’s a little bit of juggling of things. We don’t have TV. We don’t have phones, stuff like that, but I don’t need that,” she said. “I have my family, and I’ll get that stuff back.”
“We’ve always been appreciative of each other and get to spend more time together,” she added.
“We’re more close-knit than probably some other people, but we’ve always been that way.”
For more information, contact Grass Valley One-Stop at 530-265-7088 or the CalWORKS receptionist at 530-265-1760.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
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