HPOG Success Story: Autumn at Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Milton, PA

Work Attributes Towards Careers in Health (WATCH)

A single mother starts her new path in healthcare

Autumn experienced hardships until the Work Attributes Toward Careers in Health (WATCH) Visit disclaimer page program gave her the support she needed to become self-sufficient.

Autumn’s early life was tumultuous. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania with an abusive father. Helpless to defend herself, Autumn developed a chronic illness as the result of the abuse. Her mother went to jail when she was twelve, leaving no one to protect her. The abuse continued until Autumn left the house at 18 to start her own life.

Autumn did the best she could on her own. She enrolled in college and almost completed an associate degree in Business Communication. Unfortunately, financial complications and pregnancy prevented her from finishing her coursework.

Over the next ten years, Autumn held down many different jobs. She worked as an office assistant, a marketing representative, and several temp jobs, but it wasn’t enough to be self-sufficient. She depended on the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to keep the lights on, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food. Even with child support payments and subsidized childcare, it still was not enough to make ends meet. Autumn wanted to provide for her family on her own terms and decided to make a change.

In 2011, Autumn learned about WATCH from one of her children’s Head Start teachers. The program’s tuition assistance and academic guidance sparked her interest, and eventually she applied. “I recognized that I could do more and be paid more appropriately for the work I was doing, which in turn meant I could do better for my children,” she recalls. When she received notice of her acceptance, she was thrilled and eager for change.

With WATCH’s assistance, Autumn began a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program. WATCH helped her pay for tuition, fees, textbooks, uniforms and exam costs. Autumn was determined to succeed in her training. She had a perfect attendance record, excelled in her studies, and was even recognized as Student of the Month. Her WATCH career coordinator informed her of outside scholarship opportunities, and she applied for and received an additional $1,000 towards her educational expenses.

When Autumn experienced car trouble, WATCH stepped in. Before, such a setback might have derailed her progress, but now Autumn continued with their support. She received emergency rental assistance and mileage reimbursements throughout her training. Three years into her career as a CNA, she began Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) training. After Autumn graduated LPN school, her Career Coordinator stepped in again. She connected her with a local non-profit that provided the money for a down payment on a more reliable vehicle.

At 36, Autumn has found her true calling. She has a full-time job with medical benefits and makes over three times more than what she made before. No longer dependent on government aid, she and her family are self-sufficient.

“There are no words to express the gratitude I feel towards WATCH for their assistance. I can only hope that this program continues to reach, lift up, and motivate individuals who truly want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

This success story was self-identified by the grantee and information contained in this document was provided by the grantee.

HPOG Success Story: Autumn at Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (PDF)

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