Moving UP Thanks to the Union’s Ed Fund: From Dietary Aide to Registered Nurse

Photo: Diane S. Williams

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

A unique Education Fund program opened a door to life-altering opportunities for Dietary Aide Yolanda Jeter and other hospital workers to earn college degrees and acquire skills leading to jobs, promotions and better salaries.

“I went to a Local 420 membership meeting and that’s where I learned about this incredible program,” said Jeter, a per diem worker at Susan McKinney nursing home since 2013. “Attending that union meeting changed my life.”

What Jeter learned about is the Food and Nutrition Worker Education Fund program for dietary aides and other employees with union titles at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities who are supervised by Sodexo management.

The program helps NYC H+H employees advance through higher education and certifications, providing up to $2,000 in annual tuition assistance and reimbursement for education, professional development and dietary certifications.

The FNW Education Fund program is open to any NYC H+H Food and Nutrition Dept. employee in DC 37 and to dietitians in SEIU Local 1199. Eligible titles include Service Aide, Dietary Aide, Senior Cook/Cook, Institutional Aide, Client Navigator, Supervisor of Stock Workers, Motor Vehicle Operator, Assistant HCPPA, Senior HCPPA, Principal Administrative Assistant, Assistant Coordinating Manager, Secretary, Clerical Associate, Food Service Supervisor, Clinical Dietetic Technician, and Dietitians Levels I-IV.

To date, the fund has helped 400 hospital workers earn their GED, associate and bachelor’s degrees from the City University of New York. Additionally, 21 union members have completed the ServSafe training certification and Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) to become Food Service Supervisors. Others have pursued professional development and entered vaious fields in health care and engineering.

Yolanda Jeter transferred previously earned college credits to complete an accelerated nursing degree at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College. H+H allowed her to scale back her work hours at McKinney to accommodate her academic schedule. “The adjustment let me focus my attention on getting through the nursing program,” Jeter said.

FNW program administrator La’Shawn Allen is an advisor and mentor to Jeter and other students. With dedication, discipline and effort, Yolanda Jeter excelled to make the dean’s list and become a National Honor Society member.

Jeter graduated last December with an associate’s degree and is enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program that the program pays for. NYC H+H registered nurses earn about $78,800 annually, so Jeter may triple her current salary.

“I feel extremely grateful,” Jeter said. “Thanks to my union I have no debt from student loans. The training I received will further my career at NYC H+H. As a registered nurse, I can impact people’s health and wellness, safety and comfort. I feel I am part of something bigger than myself.”

“It seemed farfetched when I first heard about the education program,” Jeter said, “but I saw an opportunity and went for it! The union helped make my dreams come true.”

“We worked very hard to negotiate the best education and career development opportunities for our members at Health+Hospitals,” said Local 420 President Carmen Charles. “We are proud of sister Yolanda who has achieved so much with help from her union.”

For more information on the FNW program contact: La’Shawn Allen at EDfund@nychhc.org, or call 212.442.0684. On-line applications are also available.

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