CTC Program Building, Outreach, and Support

Homeless Prenatal Program
VISTA Name: 
Ellen-Rae Cachola
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The Americorps VISTA volunteer would expand our program by developing and piloting a technology class for our English speaking clients, the majority of whom are African-American. The goal is to motivate women from the HPP’s English speaking support groups to avail themselves of the resources in the computer lab. To reinforce and extend the class experience, the Americorps*VISTA will create a weblog specifically for these clients where they can share their interests, issues, questions and accomplishments. The weblog community will serve as an additional support group to these parents as they seek ways out of poverty. Through participation in classes, one-on-one instruction, and the weblog, these clients will upgrade their job and communication skills.

Our 2004-2005 VISTA developed a community web-site for homeless families and families in jeopardy of becoming homeless. This website is fast becoming a vital resource to such families and to case managers throughout the region for instant access to resource information. This years Americorps VISTA would expand the use of the website by (1) developing a workshop to introduce the website to new users, both clients and case managers, (2) develop promotional materials such as email announcements and posters, and (3) work with other volunteers to develop a separate homepage, navigation system and additional features just for case managers.

The Americorps*VISTA volunteer would expand our program by developing and coordinating a staff development program in the CTC. Since one of the best practices for strengthening a program such as ours is to invest in our case workers, we are planning to use the CTC for more staff development than in previous years. We will develop an on-line assessment tool to establish a baseline of the technology skills of all staff members. Using this data we will develop and coordinate skill set workshops tailored to staff needs that will be held in the CTC.

To strengthen and expand our job readiness program the Americorps*VISTA will be responsible for developing 5 In order to do this the VISTA will identify, contact and visit appropriate educational and vocational training programs. In addition the VISTA will develop referral protocols between these programs and HPP Case Managers.

The Americorps*VISTA volunteer will also coordinate our “Computers in the Home” Project. This project takes our capacity to give technological skills and experience to the underserved population beyond the walls of our CTC. Funded to provide 40 families with refurbished computers and in-home tech support through ReliaTech, a social venture project of StreetTech of Richmond, CA., participants receive training and, upon completion of the training, computers and periodic in-home tech support. In addition, clients who have received computers for their homes continue to receive training at the HPP’s CTC.

Finally, the Americorps*VISTA will collaborate with our partners in the Community Connectivity Collaboration (One Economy, StreetTech, ReliaTech, Canal Alliance, TechFutures), a group formed to define needs of local CTC’s and find ways to seek funding. The VISTA will attend CCC meetings and other partnering events that may develop.

Project Outcome: 

I know that I speak for the entire staff of the Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP) when I say that Ellen-Rae Cachola has been a boon to our organization. As her supervisor in the Community Technology Center it has been my pleasure to work very closely with her for the last 12 months. She is highly committed, intelligent, and industrious. She is extremely productive and always looking for new projects. She is also very personable, able to interact warmly with the diverse groups of people who work in our program and who come here for services. We are very lucky that she has stayed on at HPP as a part-time employee while she attends graduate school in San Francisco.

Ellen’s duties at HPP have included maintaining two websites, teaching technology in English and in Spanish, maintaining and developing the client database on Microsft Access, as well as trouble shooting technology problems in the lab and at staff workstations. She has worked with the local cable television access station to create PSAs and informational programming. In addition she has created an online generator for our paper forms which allows staff to print forms on an as needed basis from their own computers. She has also designed and published agency literature and signage in english and in spanish.

Transmission Project