At the Christian Community Service Center, a chance to change lives



After three decades as a trained nurse and seven years running her own business, Sandra Winzer was ready to grow.

“I always knew when I was younger that I wanted to be a nurse and take care of people who can’t take care of themselves,” said Winzer, who serves several elderly clients.

“So many older people are afraid to go to nursing homes,” she said. “I made the decision to help them stay in their homes.

Winzer started Sandra’s Healthcare Provider Service in 2014, and her daughter Cassandra Ferrow jumped on board. Ferrow has long admired his mother’s compassion.

“The care she gives to people is just natural,” Ferrow said. “It doesn’t even seem like a job. It’s something she loves to do.

Next, Ferrow found a flyer for a new caregiver program at the Christian Community Service Center, 3434 Branard.

Mother and daughter signed up for the 50 hour training program last fall.

“It redefined the way to be a professional caregiver,” said Winzer.

Topics covered technical aspects such as bathing, cleaning, personal hygiene and fall prevention, as well as business skills including plan creation, taxes and marketing. Instructors cover legal regulations, meal preparation, the transition from a bed to a wheelchair, as well as setting boundaries with clients, providing quality care and ethics.

“We have also learned to build relationships with our customers and professional communication,” said Ferrow.

Already Winzer has stated that she has applied what she has learned to her business.

“I think it’s a tool we can use to make our business more cohesive,” Ferrow added. “We know what action to take. “

The program could also provide Winzer with employees when she is able to grow.

“We can help take care of more older people,” she said.

Caregiver program at the Christian Community Service Center

The Caregiver Program is a new offering at the Christian Community Service Center. Currently, the organization offers courses focused on dementia and the prevention of falls and fractures. Coaching is also available for caregivers. The full 50-hour vocational training program is expected to resume in January.

Caregivers, also known as non-medical direct care workers or caregivers, help the elderly and people with disabilities in their daily activities.

“Research shows that there is currently a huge gap between families in need of care and existing caregivers,” said the centre’s executive director Michelle Shonbeck.

The goal of CCSC is to equip clients for professional success through an entrepreneurial orientation.

“There is a shortage in the industry,” Shonbeck said. “And we have the opportunity to make a difference.”

The Gulf Coast Workforce Board, a division of Workforce Solutions, has identified personal care aide as the region’s second fastest growing profession.

Caregivers also have a variety of employment options, including working for an agency or working directly for a family. And CCSC is committed to providing free training and job placement assistance.

Graduates of the Caregiver Program can also take advantage of the organization’s coaching program, computer lab, and career development services.

Teaching a Man to Fish

CCSC began in 1977, headed by deacon minister Dean Robinson at St. Luke United Methodist Church.

Then five other churches joined in the effort: St. John the Divine Episcopal, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Bethany Christian, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal. It was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1980.

The founding congregations shared the vision of responding to the immediate needs of people in crisis.

“Our mission is really to alleviate the effects of poverty,” said Stefanie Lopez, director of the employment program.

As more and more churches joined the organization, the mission grew. Member congregations wanted to maximize resources, avoid duplication of services, and expand reach.

“They realized they could be more effective if they worked together, rather than each one individually,” Lopez said.

Shonbeck has been affiliated with the center since 1988, first as a volunteer, then program director and now head of the organization.

“We bring together 39 churches,” she said. “We are not debating theology. We don’t get involved in politics. We are focused on the laser.

CCSC serves the poor, the hungry and the disabled, regardless of their religious affiliation.

“Helping people find jobs is obviously important,” Lopez said. “And, with our employment programs, we’re really focused on filling the gaps for our clients.”

JobNet is one of the services offered by the organization, offering free and qualified IT coaching and training.

Then, in 2003, the Martha’s Way program was added.

“It started in the early 2000s when some churches came to us,” Lopez said. “Traditional job searches were not meeting the needs of their congregation. “

CCSC has developed a unique, free training program to teach housekeeping, as well as the skills needed to start a business. This included tendering for a job, budgeting, and marketing.

About 2,040 people graduated from the program, which has become the model of the program for caregivers, Lopez explained.

New program – in the midst of COVID

The SBCC has been looking for new ways to develop its employment program for years. Martha’s Way made the board members wonder, “Could we offer something similar?” “

“What else can we do? Is there another niche that nobody is addressing?” Said Shonbeck.

In 2017, a committee of volunteers was formed to research the idea and assess different professions.

“They wanted to find a growing area, an area where CCSC could be successful,” Lopez said.

They found the answer in home health care.

“Caregiving came about because it’s growing so rapidly across the country and especially in the Houston area,” Lopez said.

Baby boomers are getting older, she added. And more and more people want to age at home, to stay at home instead of going into an assisted living facility.

As needs increased, SBCC also saw an increased interest in vocational training.

In 2019, the organization decided to focus on home health care.

“From there, we identified experts in this work to help us write an agenda, the topics we needed to cover, and the business components,” Lopez said.

The plan was to launch a program for caregivers in the fall of 2020. Then COVID-19 hit.

“We still hit our target,” said Shonbeck. “We just had to pivot. We had to do it entirely virtually.

After a short delay to change the formatting, 18 students graduated from the 50-hour training program.

Called to service

Focus groups are currently evaluating the progress of the first session of the training.

“We are looking at other services that caregivers need,” Lopez said. “We are also looking to support caregivers and help them find financial stability. Our goal is to help caregivers succeed in their field.

The focus group findings will further shape the agenda in 2022.

“We believe that anyone who is motivated should be able to find work,” she said. “We try to find options where traditional options don’t fit perfectly. “

Serving and helping people in financial difficulty is the mission of the CCSC, she added.

“We know that if we can help someone develop skills in a growing field, they will be able to be successful and achieve their dreams,” she said. In addition to helping clients find meaningful employment, Lopez said the organization is helping to increase the number of caregivers in the city.

“Families are looking for different options for caring for aging parents, and we are excited to be a part of them,” she explained.

It’s a win-win for CCSC, explained Shonbeck.

“Tackling poverty in your community is something churches are called to do – to help people who might never even come into your church,” she said. “You want to improve your community in any way you can. “

“It’s part of the life of your faith,” she added. “Our faith calls us to service.

Lindsay Peyton is a Houston-based freelance writer.



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