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WEPA breaks ground on allied healthcare training classrooms


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The WEPA Empowerment Center held a ceremonial demolition groundbreaking Wednesday morning attended by public officials and over 50 community members, marking the start of construction for its allied health programs under Tec Centro Lebanon.

For WEPA’s leaders, the start of construction and eventual opening of the classrooms represents a major step for the organization, being the first workforce training to be offered at its South 9th St. center.

Construction on the training classrooms, located in the first floor of the facility, is expected to finish in August, with a goal of officially opening after Labor Day.

Nurse aid, phlebotomy, medical assistant and healthcare office assistant trainings will all be available once open.

“In as little as two to six months, we’re talking people getting training where they can get into occupations that are going to be $25-$30 an hour, which is life changing,” said Kay Litman, executive director of Tec Centro Lebanon, the workforce division of WEPA.

Litman added that while the area does have an unemployed population, there’s also a large cohort of individuals who are underemployed, sometimes working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. By providing skilled training opportunities, WEPA hopes to lessen that burden while meeting a demand for workers in the healthcare field.

Depending on the program, 10-15 students will be able to be take a course at once.

In June, they will hold a drop-in information session for those interested in enrolling.

Classes are conducted through an existing collaboration between Tec Centro Workforce Network and Harrisburg Area Community College, using programs, curriculum and instructors from the community college.

“We have a partnership with Lancaster (Tec Centro), that we’ve had for a decade. What we’re doing is we’re transferring everything we learned and all that we’re doing with training there to the different Tec Centros around the area,” said HACC president John Sygielski. “This is just taking what we’ve done in Lancaster and altering depending on the needs of the community but offering a lot of the sam e services.”

Sygielski sees the partnership as a way to give an on ramp for individuals to a better job, career or even higher education, allowing them the opportunity to move from a certificate to an associates to a bachelor’s the degree if they wish to do so.

Beyond the technical education, program participants will receive comprehensive support including peer counseling, job readiness training, financial literacy education and job placement assistance.

Thanks to grants and sponsorships, training costs to students for these allied health programs have been greatly reduced, costing $100 for the nurse aid, phlebotomy and healthcare office assistance programs, and $200 for the medical assistant program, reducing the financial barriers of education for many in the community.

“It’s taking that holistic approach and treating the whole person, so they can be well, and they can be productive members of our society,” Litman said.

WEPA co-founder Rafael Torres thanked all of those who had assisted in making WEPA a reality.

Carlos Graupera, CEO of Tec Centro Network, Rep. John Schlegel, County Commissioner Bob Phillips and Lebanon City Mayor Sherry Capello also gave remarks in the ballroom of the facility before the group went downstairs to break ground on the construction, by breaking through several sections of drywall with hammers.

“For me it’s where it really starts, because everybody is waiting for training certifications,” said Torres. “I told my board that we need to get to this point where we’re starting to graduate folks with training certifications. We’re placing people in jobs, but there’s still a big community that’s hungry for that next step, that next move.”

Last August, WEPA officially opened its doors to the public, offering employment services and began offering ESL instruction earlier this spring.

The next phase for WEPA and Tec Centro Lebanon is to expand into skilled trades training for occupations like construction and robotics. They also plan to expand their ESL instruction in the fall and move into GED prep instruction.

Daniel Larlham Jr. is a reporter for the Lebanon Daily News. Reach him at DLarlham@LDNews.com or on X @djlarlham.



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