In the high-turnover field of human services, The Guild has invested extraordinary resources in recruiting and retaining direct care staff members, including raising base wages, adding retirement benefits, and providing premium healthcare benefits. The result has been the stabilization of The Guild’s workforce and a remarkable advantage of diversifying the team with recent immigrants who represent at least 24 nationalities of origin.
These successes lay the foundation for The Guild’s partnership with the International Institute of New England (IINE), a service and advocacy organization with a century-long history of working with immigrant and refugee communities in Massachusetts. Together, The Guild and IINE created a train-the-trainer program to prepare intermediate-level English language learners to take the state’s Medication Administration Program (MAP) exam, which is required for residential work in disabilities. The resulting curriculum and training strategy supplement the existing state-certified MAP course. The training is now in its second round of pilots and demonstrating initial success in preparing workers for the MAP exam and full-time employment in the field of intellectual disabilities.
Miriam Kilgoe, a bilingual staff member from Wa, Ghana, participated in the first pilot of the enhanced MAP training program. “Anybody who is willing [to participate in the class] can get it as long as they take the time to learn,” she says. Miriam passed the state MAP exam in February 2020 and now works at The Guild’s Norfolk House. “So many people try to just memorize the book,” which doesn’t work when learning in a second language. “But, taking the time and talking with the teachers helps you to add the information to your story and use it beyond the test.”
The next phase of The Guild-IINE collaboration is the development of an advanced workforce education initiative for English language learners seeking leadership positions at The Guild. “I am very grateful as an immigrant to occupy a managing position at The Guild,” says Johanne Lundi-Tezil, who emigrated from Haiti and was recently promoted to residential manager of The Guild’s Dogwood House. “The Guild doesn’t discriminate whether you speak English [as a first language] or not. They always find a way to help staff to learn more.”
Mebõá w'abaáso, Miriam!