Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Walk to Work Program Connects Hartford Residents to Jobs

By: Luis Rivera, MSW

Connecticut Children’s is proud to participate in the Walk to Work Program operated by the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA). The program is designed to help residents living in the South End of Hartford launch or further their careers in the neighborhoods where they live.

The Walk to Work Program connects candidates to open positions at Connecticut Children’s, Hartford Hospital and Trinity College, which are the three partners that formed SINA. As Connecticut Children’s Community Relations Manager, I believe this program is an important way of building a workforce that is more reflective of the community we serve. Connecticut Children’s has hired 19 team members through the program since 2018.

I recently caught up with two team members who work with Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program and asked them to share their experience with the Walk to Work Program. Jessica Rios is a Program Coordinator and Esther Figueroa is her manager.

How did you learn about the SINA Walk to Work program?

Jessica Rios: I learned about the SINA Walk to Work Program through friends on social media who connected me with Elsa Huertas, the Career Navigator who manages the program.

Esther Figueroa: Luis, I’m so thankful that you shared information about the program with my manager, Chris Corcoran, who passed the details along to me.

Tell us about the process of connecting with the program.

Jessica Rios: Once I connected with Elsa, we exchanged contact information and I emailed my resume to her. We set up a time to talk. During our conversation, Elsa asked about my position at that time and what I was looking for. I was at a time in my life where I felt stuck. My kids are young, we were in the middle of a pandemic, I felt burned out for over three years, and I just did not know what to do. I have a degree in social work. I have worked in human services and social work positions for many years. I knew I still wanted to work with a company that made a difference but I did not want to be a front line worker. I also was interested in having the opportunity to move up into a management role.

How did the program help you find employment at Connecticut Children’s?

Jessica Rios: Over the next week, Elsa helped me update my resume and began to search for positions for me. I had been applying through Indeed almost daily and continued to do that while working with Elsa. Within about a month or so, Elsa sent me the information for the Program Coordinator position with Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program. I had not seen this position advertised. Even if I did see it advertised, I may not have applied for it because I didn’t feel I met exactly what they were looking for. Elsa helped me see the connections between what Healthy Homes was looking for and what I had to offer.

What would you want others to know about the SINA Walk to Work Program?

Jessica Rios: Without a program like the SINA Walk to Work Program, I would have never applied for this position. I would not have had someone to tell me that I had a chance. Without this program, I would not be as happy as I am in my career right now. I have been in this position for more than a year now, am excelling at my position, and love what I do! I am working towards being a program manager with assistance and guidance from my managers.

Esther Figueroa: The SINA Walk to Work Program works very hard to fit you with the right organization. Give them a chance, they will also help with your resume, they prepare you with mock interviews, and give you that boost you need to want to apply for a job that at first glance may look intimidating.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Esther Figueroa: Elsa Huertas is great at matching you with the right position and organization.  Give her a call!

To be eligible for SINA’s Walk to Work Program, candidates must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or a GED. They also need to live in the 06106 or 06114 zip codes and speak conversational English. For more information on the program, click here.

Luis Rivera is the Community Relations Manager at Connecticut Children’s.

1 reply »

  1. Great blog entry! We are happy to have found such a great team member through SINA’s program, and I highly recommend that anyone searching for new staff members collaborate with them too!

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