Saying they are opening doors to adult education opportunities in Lebanon County, workforce development and other local officials held a ground-breaking ceremony at Tec Centro Lebanon on Wednesday.

Beginning in late September, the workforce training facility in Lebanon city known as WEPA will begin to offer adult education classes in four healthcare fields: nurse aid, phlebotomy, healthcare office assistant, and medical assisting, according to Kay Litman, executive director for Tec Centro Lebanon.

Construction is set to begin in the basement of Tec Centro, located in the old Elks building in downtown Lebanon, to accommodate the 50 to 70 students expected to take classes at the allied health training rooms.

“One of the promises is that it is going to make a significant impact on this community and the future of this community,” said Litman.

Both Litman and WEPA co-founder Rafael Torres said during remarks to the audience that the need for an education center for adults is long overdue.

“The need for this facility today that we’re here to celebrate is really urgent and profound,” said Litman. “Our communities, just like so many others, are experiencing a critical shortage of healthcare workers. The demand … has never been greater, and these professionals are the backbones of our communities and our healthcare systems. They ensure that every patient receives the care and attention they deserve.”

“The board – I probably drive them up the wall – ‘What’s this sense of urgency?’ I heard that one time at a board meeting,” related Torres. “This should have been done yesterday, and I don’t have time to be messing around and just talking about it. We can’t. We have to be smart and talk it through, but not so much that nothing happens.” 

This provided graphic shows where classrooms will be located to train adult learners interested in careers in one of four professions in the healthcare industry. The classrooms will be constructed this spring and summer with classes set to begin in late September at Tec Centro in downtown Lebanon.

While WEPA is providing the training facility, the educational component will be conducted via a partnership with Harrisburg Area Community College.

“These training rooms are going to provide educational – essential education – and hands-on experience that’s going to equip students with the skills that are necessary to excel in these vital roles,” added Litman. “What sets Tec Centro’s model apart is its commitment to more than just producing qualified workers, but it’s providing training opportunities for our marginalized and underemployed communities who will greatly benefit from these high-end occupations.”

Litman noted that in addition to educational training in their chosen field, all students will receive “comprehensive support along the way.” That includes career counseling, job readiness instruction, financial literacy education and job placement assistance.

Tec Centro Lebanon already provides a menu of employment services for job seekers and employers, including language training, job placement and resume writing, among others.

“It’s taking that holistic approach and treating the whole person so they can be well and be productive members of society,” added Litman. “Thanks to grants and philanthropic sponsorship, these training costs are covered, reducing the financial barrier that so many people in our vulnerable populations face. So we’re removing that barrier, thanks to your help.”

Costs are expected to be $100 per student for three of the four subject fields. The fourth, medical assisting, will cost each student $200, according to a WEPA fact sheet.

“This is going to open the doors for so many individuals, offering them the opportunity to pursue rewarding careers while simultaneously addressing our communities’ healthcare needs for our friends, neighbors and families,” said Litman. “As we look to the future, our focus is that we have to be steadfast.”

The crowd at the WEPA ground-breaking ceremony learn how the adult training programs will benefit the local healthcare industry given the many job openings available at various facilities around Lebanon County. (James Mentzer)

Litman added the immediate future is a critical time for WEPA.

“Our next steps are critical, and part of that is building strong partnerships. We’re excited that we’re going to be collaborating with Harrisburg Area Community College,” said Litman. “These partnerships ensure that the curriculum is not only comprehensive, but it aligns with industry standards so the quality training is there.”

Litman noted that the registration and processing of students is another immediate critical component that WEPA officials need to address. 

Following the ground-breaking ceremony, Litman told LebTown that adults interested in pursuing a career in one of the four fields can attend a walk-in Career Paths in Allied Health informational session from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 24 at the center, at 9 S. 9th St., Lebanon.

“We’re going to be reaching out to the community, especially to those who may have never even considered a career in healthcare,” she said. “Partnering with our CareerLink friends who are here, sharing those opportunities. It’s about casting a vision and letting people see something that they may never have dreamed upon. That’s what empowerment is all about, and that’s what I love about the work that’s here.”   

Litman told the audience that the center has other needs, which she hopes that community partners will help fulfill.

“We’re going to have equipment needs, so state-of-the-art tools and technology are essential to providing high-quality training,” she said. “We’re calling again upon our community, once again, to support this endeavor – whether it’s through donations or sponsorship or partnerships, all of those contributions will play a critical role in preparing our students for the realities of the healthcare field.”

Tec Centro Lebanon is modeled after the highly successful Tec Centro Lancaster, which also spawned Tec Centro York and Tec Centro Berks. 

Tec Centro Network CEO Carlos Graupera called this a special moment, adding a community development center in Lebanon has been a long-time coming.

“Funny things happen when we create buildings like this,” said Graupera. “People begin to dream, people begin to realize that they need to own their problems because no one is going to solve them for you, and that solutions are possible.” 

There are a number of “problems” a facility like WEPA can address.

“There are issues of underemployment, unemployment, wage disparity, equality – all can be addressed in a business-like manner and we can solve problems in our community that divide us by providing a platform that everybody can come in and participate and collaborate,” added Graupera. “This will be a very beneficial thing we’re doing today for the entire Lebanon community.” 

WEPA co-founder Rafael Torres makes a point about the urgent need for an adult training center for careers in the healthcare industry during a ground-breaking ceremony at Tec Centro Lebanon on Wednesday. (James Mentzer)

Other speakers, who also offered WEPA proclamations as part of their presentations, included state Rep. John Schlegel (R-101), Lebanon County Commissioner Bob Phillips, and Mayor Sherry Capello. 

Lebanon County Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Groh and a representative from state Senator Chris Gebhard’s office also presented proclamations to Torres and his wife, Maribel, who is a WEPA co-founder. 

Following the presentations, attendees and officials gathered in the area that will serve as the allied healthcare training classrooms for a “ground-breaking” ceremony – although a floor is already in place. 

Instead of a traditional ground-breaking that involves shovels, a number of WEPA officials and other dignitaries smashed three different drywall panels with construction tools to celebrate the occasion and launch the construction project. 

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Support local journalism.

Cancel anytime.


🌟 Annual

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Your email address will be kept private.