Students and Alumni Pay it Forward

a group of women outside of Senior Sevices

Human Services is a specialized, yet growing career field offering entry-level positions in a variety of roles. From mental and social services to agencies serving older adults, the prerequisites for this career are compassion and the willingness to serve others.

Forsyth Technical Community College offers degrees and certificates in both Human Services, along with a Human Services/Gerontology concentration.

“Forsyth Technical Community College is one of only five community colleges in North Carolina that offer a degree in Gerontology,” said Betsey Zook, program coordinator of human services technology. “The field is growing as the population ages and employees are needed.”

Students in both these fields are required to complete internships in non-profit agencies. This semester, there are three agencies where Forsyth Tech interns pair up with Forsyth Tech alumni, who now work as employees at Senior Services, Inc., The Bethesda Center for the Homeless, and The Enrichment Center.

Senior Services, Inc. provides a variety of services for seniors from lunch programs, Meals-On-Wheels, personal care, information and referrals, and case management, to supervised care at the Elizabeth and Tab Williams Adult Day Center. Forsyth Tech alumni, Dorothy Thomas and Yveline Buford, are employees at Senior Services and are responsible for coordinating activities during the three-day-a-week lunch programs. Rudine Holmes and Lakesha Barley are Forsyth Tech student interns at these sites.

Thomas is located at the Sprague Street Community Center and mentors Holmes, while Buford is located at the Brown and Douglas Recreation Center and mentors Barley.

”I want to write a book on how to tap into these seniors’ passions and talents,” said Thomas. “To me, they are remarkable with so much to share. I love working with the seniors.”

All four women had previous careers and returned to school at Forsyth Tech, knowing they were committed to work with senior adults through geriatric services.

The lunch programs are an opportunity for seniors to get out of their homes, have lunch, and socialize. “We provide activities before lunch, and the seniors love the games — especially Bingo,” said Buford.

As the seniors are leaving, the staff said they see positive changes on the participants’ faces, and the seniors have a renewed sense of purpose.

“You can see that the seniors care about each other when they come to lunch,” said Barley. “They have become like a family.”

The Bethesda Center for the Homeless operates a day shelter and an emergency overnight shelter for homeless men and women in Winston-Salem. Its mission, to “create opportunities through emergency and supportive services,” gives hope to countless men and women annually as moving from homelessness to housing becomes a reality.

Four student interns work with three graduates of Forsyth Tech. Interns Tanner Bowden, Angela Gaskin, Michael Hoots,