Lutheran Crossings offering a chance to lend a helping hand

Lutheran Crossings at Moorestown is acutely aware of the challenges that come with aging, and the senior care community knows that it takes a certain type of person to provide care to its residents who are facing the challenges that come later in life. So, the nonprofit wanted to open the door for those who are interested in filling that difficult role with its Tuition-Free Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Home Health Aides Program.

Through the program, Lutheran Crossings will pay a student’s tuition and provide a stipend for interested individuals to obtain their CNA or CHHA license. After completing the month-long course, the student must work for Lutheran Crossings for one year in exchange for their tuition.

The program saw its first graduate this June, and the most recent graduate, Alasia Edwards, completed her course of study this fall. Edwards, a Burlington City resident, said she’s especially grateful for the opportunity. 

Edwards said she always knew she wanted to work in some form of health care. When she came to Lutheran Crossings four years ago, she worked in the dietary division, but she knew she wanted to pursue more. Sonya Spisak, human resources coordinator, informed Edwards about the program. Having recently learned she was pregnant, Edwards thought it might not be the right time, but Spisak informed her whenever she was ready, the offer still stood.

Several months after giving birth and returning to work, Edwards was ready. She said Lutheran Crossings was happy to work with her schedule. So, she worked in her dietary role from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and went to class from 4 to 8 p.m. Then, she came home, put her son to bed and studied from 10 p.m. to midnight.

While the first week was a bit of a challenge, Edwards said, by her second week, she was in a routine, and the courses far exceeded her expectations. She said she couldn’t have imagined the breadth of material that the certified nursing assistant classes covered. 

After passing the test a few weeks ago, Edwards has since jumped into her new role at Lutheran Crossings. She said she’s still getting her feet wet, but her fellow aids have been extremely helpful in guiding her as she transitions from school to the field.

She said in the field, simple things can go a long way. A resident might be upset before she walks in, but after she’s helped them, she often leaves them smiling. She said that’s why she wanted to pursue this path.

“I’m just happy they’re happy,” Edwards said. “They have good care, and that’s what makes me want to keep them happy.” 

Edwards said if it wasn’t for Lutheran Crossings, it probably would have taken her longer to become a CNA. She said having already known the facility and the directors, she felt supported in her journey.

Those interested in getting their CNA, CMA or CHHA do not have to already work at Lutheran Crossings. She said she thinks the sponsorship program is a great way for the Moorestown facility to open its doors to the community and help people learn a new skill set.

Spisak said Lutheran Crossings pays for the tuition, uniform, books and final test. Participants have no monetary responsibility, and while they’d love their new graduates to stay with them beyond a year, they’re under no obligation to do so. She said if they’re coming to the program from outside of Lutheran Crossings and they don’t have a job, they’ll provide a stipend as they take the courses. 

For Edwards, the program has opened up a new chapter in her life. She said she’s interested in becoming more than just a good CNA, and in continuing her education and continuously learning moving forward. 

Those interested in learning more about the CNA, CMA and CHHA tuition-paid sponsorship program at Lutheran Crossings, can call Spisak at (856) 813-5811. To learn more about Lutheran Crossings, visit www.lutherancrossings.org.