NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBrazos CountyBryan


'Together We Grow' program provides skills, training for the community to enter the workforce

Posted at 10:36 AM, Mar 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-25 11:36:08-04

BRYAN, Texas — Together We Grow is program through the Brazos Valley Food Bank to help grow the community in more ways than one.

Participants in the program spend five weeks building personal and professional skills to help land a career in their desired field.

“I was accepted into the program two years ago and during the program, I was in a car wreck and wasn’t able to complete my five weeks, much less take a job at that point,” student Tonja Scheer said.

Scheer was volunteering in Washington County when she saw a flyer for the Together We Grow program.

She faced many obstacles along the way but successfully completed it.

“They kept in contact with me even when I couldn’t complete the program which helped not just with education, but the emotional support they offered,” Scheer said.

Alaina Jalufka is the program manager for Together We Grow.

This program has been in the community for going on six and a half years. 

“Many of our food-insecure neighbors have difficulties with finding employment that fits their circumstances, whether that’s getting enough hours at work, finding a work schedule that fits their family’s circumstances, or even just knowing where to begin,” Jalufka said.

She said smaller classroom settings help foster better relationships among the students. 

According to Together We Grow, from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, 25 participants across three cohorts reported a 251% increase in net income for participants.

While learning from one another, they also learn about adopting soft skills.

This helped Scheer land a position as a certified medical assistant.

“This helped me with my computer skills,” Scheer said. “It helped me with getting into a training program and doing the interviews and being successful in the interviews.”

“We’re talking about communication, conflict management,” Jalufka said. “We go over healthy boundaries, stress management, how to work on teams, leadership, and then we even have an on-site garden where folks work together as a team and apply some of those skills they are learning in the classroom in a real-world setting."

For Scheer, working in the garden was when she realized her life turned a new leaf.

“You actually see the changes in the plants, and because of the duration of time, I was like ‘oh, look, all of this is so much better,’" Scheer said. “Then I thought, I am better. That’s what really sunk in with me, all of us can change. All of us can grow.”

Community members will receive a $500 stipend throughout the course of the program, as well as check-ins from Together We Grow staff a year after program completion.
Together We Grow starts on April 16. Applications are still open to apply.