Partner Feature: CHWs and Smithville Workforce Training Center

You Are Your Greatest Resource
Pamela Duncan always told her children that education would take them a long way, and she pushed them to go on after they graduated. Seeing their mother’s passion, the roles have reversed. They see their mother’s passion to complete this milestone for herself and are encouraging her when she struggles and wonders if she can do it.

A Dream Come True
Pamela is an active member of her community and is always quick to volunteer to help others. For 36 years, she’s dreamt of earning her GED, and thanks to the Smithville Workforce Training Center, that dream is finally becoming a reality.
“I always had a fear of math, so I never even tried to get a GED,” she says.
Pamela’s fear is similar to many who have dreams of pursuing continuing education or training. That’s where the Smithville Workforce Training Center comes in. It is a training and education center that serves Bastrop County residents who are looking for job training opportunities. The best part? It’s free!
“It has really changed my life to be able to go back to school. I’ve always pictured myself one day with a cap and gown,” Pamela says.

A Resource for Learning and Growth
Pamela learned about the Workforce Training Center through a fellow church member, Samella Williams. Samella is a BCC Community Health Worker (CHW) whose role is to support the goals of Bastrop County Accountable Communities Health Initiative (BCACH).
The BCACH Initiative brings people together to collaborate around large community challenges that no one organization can solve on its own, to improve where our neighbors live, work, learn, pray and play. The work of BCACH and other BCC coalitions falls within the Social Determinants of Health, which include but are not limited to: creating social and community connections; increasing quality healthcare and educational access, and addressing economic stability to strengthen communities.
As a CHW, Samella’s role is to build community capacity to address health issues. This is done through a wide range of activities in connection with her leadership in the community.

Community Health Workers: A Valuable Community Resource
To become a CHW, Samella completed the CHW Certification program through Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Nursing and is now certified by the State of Texas. Samella supports the BCACH Initiative with the goal of connecting people to resources and transforming systems to improve community health and achieve greater equity on a sustainable basis rather than “one-time” interventions. One of BCACH partners’ goals is to address economic stability. Instead of offering that “one-time” intervention for a job where one will just go to work and earn a paycheck, BCACH’s goal is to provide a platform that connects individuals to training programs that offer careers. These training programs create opportunities for helping individuals advance in pay and be financially impacted in a positive way for a lifetime.

How is Smithville Workforce Training Center Making a Difference?

The Smithville Workforce Training Center (SWFTC) is one of BCACH’s partners that offers an opportunity for individuals to receive free training! The SWTC provides high-quality certification programs intended to build the capacity of the broader rural community, linking training to jobs that pay a living wage. Samella is known for her desire to share her knowledge, skills, and BCACH information with anyone who will listen! Her neighbors know they can always count on her to share community information and resources. Samella targets Bastrop County communities, people in marginalized communities, and our local businesses. She also shares with her congregation, which is how Pamela learned about the SWFTC.
“Pamela’s an amazing woman and has been studying to take the test to earn her GED,” said Samella. “I wish I could have recorded her excitement when I told her about the Workforce Training Center!”
Pamela has become an advocate for the center and reached out to others about going through the GED program with her. “Age doesn’t matter. It’s our time now,” she says.
Pamela is excited about her new journey, she finds herself advocating for SWTC.
“If there’s anyone that needs some training, they should contact the center. It’s a wonderful thing. I had that fear of math, and I’ve overcome it,” Pamela says.

Training to Provide Economic Stability

BCACH seeks the voice of the community and wants to find out the strengths and area of needs in Bastrop County from the people who reside in the county. While the coordinators at the Workforce and Training Center seek input from local businesses to find out what kinds of skills and training local employers require of new hires, and speak with students and prospective adult trainees to find out what they want to learn to meet their life goals. This assures that the programs are co-created solutions that address the needs and aspirations of the people who are central to building capacity in the workforce–the workers and the businesses that will employ them. Working as partners, their goal is to identify the needs of both the community and employers.

A Connected Community is a Prosperous Community

Pamela’s story points out how a connected community can work together to improve its citizens’ lives. In this case, a Community Health Worker was able to connect a community member with an important resource: the Smithville Workforce Training Center. The training center is able to provide a valuable tool for community members to get training and earn certifications, which leads to better job opportunities and economic stability.
We are proud of our community partnerships and the work that our Community Health Workers are doing throughout our community. There is typically a larger need for CHWs in underprivileged, marginalized communities where resources are limited or there’s a lack of access to quality healthcare.CHWs are making a difference and the communities are responsive!

If you want to connect with a Community Health Worker, please email chw@bastropcares.org.