New PHA program helps residents develop career skills

May 15, 2014

3E program graduate hugs Brent Baker, the coordinator for the program.
Credit Denise Molina-Weiger
A new Peoria Housing Authority program is helping some Harrison and Taft Homes residents pursue medical careers.

The 3E: Empower. Educate. Employ program helped participants gain the skills needed to land a job. Those include learning how to budget, act professionally, and deal with conflict-resolution issues. Seven residents graduated from the five week program Thursday.

They are expected to enroll into Illinois Central College’s CNA program this fall. Some will also simultaneously earn their GEDs.

Brent Baker is working for the PHA through the AmeriCorps Service Program and developed the 3E program. He says there are many public housing residents who want to work and be successful, but don’t have the resources to move forward.

“There’s the financial resource barrier, the transportation barrier, and the education barrier is huge. A lot of the individuals in this program do not have a GED. And if you’ve been out of school for 15 or 20 years, you don’t want to go back to school or you’re afraid to go back to school. And so getting them in the mindset to then tackle that challenge has been the biggest challenge,” says Baker.

Baker says those in the 3E program ranged in age from 23 to 42 years old. 37-year old Kanisha Clements lives at Harrison Homes and has seven children. She says she’s always wanted to pursue a medical career, but never had the money to do it. Celments says the 3E program allows her to set a good example for her children.

“My nine-year old said, ‘Mom, I’m so proud of you. You’re going back to college.’ So, it makes me feel wonderful. You can’t tell your kids to go on if you haven’t moved on,” says Clements.

Graduates of the 3E program also received gift cards and a 100-dollar gift certificate to purchase uniforms in the future. The head of the 3E program says participants will also get help getting financial aid for the CNA program.