In 2023, Canal Alliance’s Workforce Program launched its first Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Home Health Aide (HHA) career training pathway, enrolling 15 students in the twelve-week program (comprised of six weeks of lecture and six weeks of clinicals at Villa Marin). Offered in partnership with College of Marin and By the Bay Health, the program teaches students the skills needed to secure positions as CNAs in the field of medicine. Like all career pathways offered through our Workforce Department, CNA positions pay a living wage and provide a steppingstone toward career employment in the field. These new graduates are now pursuing certification with the state, which requires a rigorous exam, and, following that, jobs as CNAs. Canal Alliance’s team is supporting their efforts: helping with exam prep, reviewing resumes, practicing for interviews, and providing coaching on salary negotiations.
Jorge Gonzalez, one of our graduates in this first cohort has a particularly inspiring story. Jorge’s first got involved with Canal Alliance back in 2010, when he initially sought the expertise of our Immigration Legal Services team in navigating his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) claims.
Over the years Jorge has continued to engage with Canal Alliance, exploring various programs before taking note of the CNA program’s launch. “When I saw that the CNA class was coming, I was already working at a hospital, and I wanted to get a better understand the patient care aspect works so I applied.”
In the CNA program, students acquire a comprehensive understanding of essential medical terminology, inpatient care, procedures and the proficient use of various types of medical equipment. After completion of the course the students are prepared to contribute as CNAs in the healthcare setting.
The CNA class proved to be a fulfilling experience for Jorge. From dedicated teachers to enthusiastic fellow students, he found himself in an environment that he loved, one that fostered learning and confidence, “I enjoyed learning and I felt comfortable being in this setting,” said Jorge.
While enrolled, Jorge went the extra mile to make sure he could help his classmates. He volunteered to help the teacher Sandra play videos in class, run slideshows, assist classmates with computer literacy and help translate words from English to Spanish because he wanted everyone to succeed. Jorge created a text group chat for the whole class to use, and when anyone missed class, he would post the link to the assignments or important information.
This is not the only instance of Jorge helping within the Canal community. Jorge helped Axel Flores, of our Workforce Department, as a volunteer last year, supporting the Vita program, which helps Canal residents prepare and file their taxes.
Reflecting on the CNA program, Jorge also shared appreciations for Canal Alliance staff, calling out Regina Vindell and Francessca Santana, of the workforce department, in particular. “Regina was able to help every single student with the support they needed. If any of us had any doubts she would clear those doubts and do whatever she could to make sure we succeeded.”
Jorge looks towards the future. He’s currently waiting for his CNA license from the state and is eager to secure a part time job as a CNA to have another flow of income.
“I already worked in a hospital and I’m the first professional to work in my family, and this course was an opportunity that could help my career, so I took it.” To Jorge, Canal Alliance is a community, he says that it is a place where you can get support and a place where you can give back to too.
We are thrilled to have the support of Bank of Marin and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, among others, for this blossoming program.