Nursing Department's Wellness WORKs! program grant increased

The California State University, Stanislaus Department of Nursing has received a grant increase from the San Joaquin County Mental Health Service that will provide for expansion of a program that helps people transition from the welfare rolls to the workforce.

Additional funding of nearly $100,000 added to the Wellness WORKs! grant renewal from San Joaquin Mental Health Service brought the total funding for 2007-08 to just under $500,000. Mental Health Services receives CalWORKs funding from the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency to address mental health obstacles to employment for clients in the CalWORKs program. Founded in 2000 at the CSU Stanislaus Stockton Center, the Wellness Works! Program helps CalWORKs participants develop knowledge and skills to live a healthy lifestyle and prepare them to enter the working world.

"Wellness WORKs! has been an extremely successful program, and the additional funding will enable us to make the services available to more people in the San Joaquin County region," said Diane Feneck, program coordinator. "This program really helps people to focus on themselves and empowers them to become successful in life so they are better prepared to get a job. It's a wonderful program to be a part of because we can see that it makes a difference in people's lives."

With the substantial increase in grant funding, Feneck said more staffing and services can be added to allow for expansion of instructional programs to accommodate more people. Instructional programs held at the CSU Stanislaus Stockton Center on a variety of topics range from one day to three weeks. Programs focus on fostering self-esteem, improving self-care, enhancing personal and family wellness, and supporting participants' entry into the work world while increasing their chances for success on the job with better lifestyle choices.

More than 3,000 people who receive CalWORKs benefits have participated in the program over the past six years. Feneck said many of the participants have overcome a number of challenges and obstacles in their lives and gone on to successful careers as productive citizens.

"The welcoming environment of the program as you walk through the door on Monday morning makes all the difference in the world," said Davina Arreaga, a program participant four years ago who now is a program assistant in the Wellness WORKs! office. "It is a wonderful gift to serve the people we do and watch their growth and outlooks change from when they start until they complete the program. I am just one of the many who have grown to love this program and how it has helped us grow as productive people."