In March 2020, COVID shuttered the restaurant where Kayla Hollon waited tables. Soon she couldn’t pay her mortgage. Buying groceries for her eight-year-old son became a challenge.
Today, thanks to Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation-funded Jeremiah’s Hope medical jobs training program, Hollon is an Ascension St. Vincent’s certified clinical medical assistant. Working alongside a nurse practitioner at American Cast Iron Pipe Company, she conducts health screenings, takes vital signs, and assists in the event of an accident. “Jeremiah’s Hope took a huge burden off me,” Hollon says. “It allowed me to establish a better foundation to support my family.”
Since 2003 Jeremiah’s Hope has graduated hundreds of medical assistants, patient care technicians, sterile processing technicians, administrative medical assistants, and phlebotomists. In 2019, these certification courses were transitioned to Jefferson State Community College, expanding Jeremiah’s Hope to four locations and enabling more flexible hours for students. “Without the Foundation’s donors we could not provide scholarships and support materials for these students,” says Program Manager Kim Sztanyo.
Now Sztanyo and her team are seeking additional support. “There are students who dream of a healthcare career,” Sztanyo says. “We want to break down all the barriers, so they can make that dream a reality.” While some like Hollon have supportive families, others struggle alone to work fulltime, raise children, and complete demanding night classes. “Jeremiah’s Hope got me on the fast track in six months,” Hollon says. “But I saw others drop out because they didn’t have reliable transportation, childcare, or all the tuition money needed.”
Tom and Cathy Adams witnessed the impact of Jeremiah’s Hope and annually support the program. “This is the most joyful donation we make,” Cathy says. “We were asked to be part of the Jeremiah’s Hope graduation pinning ceremony, and it was very emotional. The families were all there. Pride was written on their faces. We heard so many inspiring stories. One young man had graduated from the program and then went back to become a Registered Nurse. He is now head of his department.”
The Adams are asking others to give. “I think the more people who learn about this remarkable program, the more people who will be eager to help,” Cathy says. “Their graduation success rate is unbelievable. This is something that works. This is a hand-up, not a hand-out. It’s not easy. Each participant has to invest a lot of time and effort. These folks are not being trained for a job, but a career they can take pride in. The person who is drawing your blood at the doctor’s office might be the first step toward saving your life.”
The hope announced by the Prophet Jeremiah (29:11) is particularly meaningful to Cathy. “God has a plan for everybody, but sometimes that plan needs a little facilitation. There are not enough healthcare personnel to fill all the jobs available locally. Giving to Jeremiah’s Hope is a privilege, because it can help make a lasting impact on someone else’s life.”
Hollon agrees. “For somebody like me, what donors give to this program means more than they can imagine; their generosity has changed my life.”
Every gift designated for Jeremiah’s Hope goes directly to support scholarships and students’ needs.