Grants Pass, Oregon
Creating an online community strengthens participants’ bonds and paves the road to success.
Rogue Community College’s Southern Oregon Health Occupations Poverty Elimination (SOHOPE) project prepares Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income residents for healthcare careers, ranging from nursing assistant and pharmacy technicians to emergency medical technicians. Throughout the program, participants receive support services such as transportation and childcare assistance, academic advising, and job placement support, which help ensure steady progress through training.
COVID-19 forced SOHOPE participants to adjust to new realities, such as working remotely. Students also faced displacement, confusion, and trauma due to the wildfire disasters in southern Oregon. These crises pushed SOHOPE staff to refocus their efforts to emphasize personal connections. The team established weekly Zoom open office hours. These virtual sessions allowed students to ask questions, communicate with other participants, share their experiences, and learn valuable tips.
During the Zoom sessions, SOHOPE staff presented on important topics such as online testing guidance, at-home studying with children present, creating relationships in an online culture, setting up a home office, and time management. They also discussed soft skills, including communication, ethics, diversity awareness, and etiquette. During some of these presentations, staff brought in guest speakers from human service agencies and industry partners who offered suggestions for healthcare employment.
Participants felt the live virtual sessions helped them connect with each other and provided a forum to ask important questions. To continue adding value, SOHOPE staff plans to host a virtual industry fair that will foster networking between employers and students.
SOHOPE’s online community strengthens the bond between staff and participants. The team is very proud of the students’ resilience and their ability to push through barriers.
This Promising Practice was self-identified by the grantee and information contained in this document was provided by the grantee.