SOLEDAD — More than a dozen participants in a state-wide job training program offered by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) graduated in May with their certifications from Salinas Valley State Prison and Correctional Training Facility in Soledad.
This was an emotional day for the graduates as some saw family members for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Throughout the past year, the incarcerated men learned the necessary job skills and passed all their certifications in Healthcare Facilities Maintenance, an essential program that continued to operate throughout the pandemic.
Healthcare Facilities Maintenance, or HFM program as it is called, provides valuable job training to about 1,000 participants throughout the state as they learn how to clean healthcare facilities at a hospital level in all California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prisons.
“Congratulations, you should all be very proud of your accomplishments,” said CALPIA’s Acting General Manager Bill Davidson at the graduation. “We want you all to be successful and this program has a great track record.”
The HFM program is more than a janitorial program, as incarcerated individuals go through several training modules. They learn to clean various medical settings while attaining accredited, certified training through TPC Training Systems. Participants learn how to clean after viruses, blood borne pathogens and other hazmat settings and master the skills that meet OSHA requirements.
CALPIA has numerous success stories with former graduates working in hospitals, dental offices and starting their own cleaning businesses.
“During the pandemic in 2020, my coworkers and I felt valued and appreciated. We were called upon to perform a job in providing safety for all staff and inmates in this institution,” said HFM graduate Joey Lucero. “I am so very thankful to have this opportunity to achieve our dreams and goals and apply ourselves in a professional manner.”
Along with the HFM certifications, some participants also received their State Apprenticeship, which is provided in partnership with the Department of Industrial Relations. Graduates had to have over 2,000 hours. In addition, all apprentices are required to complete 144 hours of related supplemental instruction annually.
“Prior to my incarceration, I worked at a grocery market. Because of my mentality at the time, I was a terrible employee,” said HFM graduate Ramon Mora. “Since then, I have transformed and have learned to be grateful for what I have. Thanks to CALPIA HFM, I have a strong work ethic, training and certifications.”
Correctional Training Facility Warden Craig Koenig and Salinas Valley State Prison Acting Warden Tristan Lemon were among the speakers at the two events.
“It is such an honor to recognize you all in person again and to say thank you,” Koenig said. “We all have gone through a lot in the last 14 months, your skills and expertise did not go unnoticed. I know there is great success in your future.”