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Program trains seniors to be community health workers

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(The Center Square) – A program to help seniors get jobs as community health workers is expanding in Illinois.

Through a federal grant, the hospice organization HAP Foundation alongside AmeriCorp will work with eight to 10 partners in Sangamon County to engage and train up to 15 individuals ages 55 and older as community health workers.

Rachael Telleen, HAP’s executive director of Community Education and Workforce Development, said the program has the potential to grow.

“The fact that you have older individuals connecting with other older individuals, there’s more of a bond,” said Telleen. “This is really a pilot in itself for community health workers, so we see this as a pipeline for community health workers in the future.”

Participants will receive 40 hours of training and will commit to 10 hours a week, with a monthly stipend of $200. After the program is completed, each participant is eligible to receive an additional payment of $1,000.

Earlier this year, HAP launched the program in Peoria County and hopes to expand throughout Illinois.

Springfield Mayor Misty Buscher said there should be a plentiful workforce to choose from.

“Currently, there are 45 million Americans that are 65 years of age or older, and by 2030 that number will be at 73 million,” said Buscher. “Our seniors are our future.”

Those interested can sign up on the HAP Foundation website.