Grants & Scholarships

Turning the instinct to care into a career

A day in the life at the Genesis Center in Providence, as seen through the eyes of students and staff

In the back of the room, he sat as the women explained why they chose nursing as their career.

Both Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) students Katia Louis-Belony and Tina Smith from the Genesis Center, in Providence, and their proctor, Carol Lundquist, gave family as a chief reason.

Katia moved from Haiti to Providence to provide a better life for her now toddler son. She received a bachelor’s degree in law there but decided to pursue her other love—the medical field—here in the United States.

“I need to be involved in the country,” she said. “In Haiti and in the United States, I am conquering all my dreams to help people in multiple ways.”

A relative introduced her to Genesis so she could learn English. Once there, she discovered the nonprofit organization has so much more—such as the health care job training programs, GED classes, citizen preparation, child care, and other services. The financial support from the Rhode Island Foundation, its leaders say, is critical to the Center’s survival and success.

A recent $115,000 grant from the Foundation, for example, allows Genesis to expand its workforce programs, like the one that is further shaping Katia and Tina’s lives.

Tina moved back to Rhode Island when her mother became sick. She was bored with the repetitious job that she held for more than two decades, and after being a caretaker for her mom, she was inspired to pursue nursing.

“I didn’t think I could learn [another career],” said Tina, who just turned 50. “It’s a lot to take in sometimes, but the teacher is excellent.”

Carol, a longtime certified nurse, has held multiple roles in this field from administrative to medical to the current teaching responsibility at Genesis. She came back to Rhode Island during the pandemic to be closer to family.

“There’s such a dire need for nurses,” Carol stated when asked why she continues to teach. “This is called giving back.”

This is her second class at Genesis, where she teaches 16 other students in addition to Katia and Tina. They start with laws, ethics, and resident/patient rights. Communicating as a team and then with patients is next. Then its proper handwashing, how to take vitals and more than 20 other hands-on lessons before doing their clinicals at Cedar Crest Nursing & Rehabilitation Centre (also known as The Cedars) in Cranston.

This is where the nameless rigid listener, the only man in the class at the time, comes into our story. He didn’t say a word, and really couldn’t, but looked uncomfortable in his wheelchair—not from the conversation, but from the slumped position in the seat.

Carol used him—a dummy who is missing a hand possibly from his years of being a skills subject for the Genesis students—as an opportunity to demonstrate transporting a patient correctly. They weren’t at that point in their lessons yet, so Carol took the lead.

Tina rolled him closer to the bed against the wall—which has helpful information on it that tells the differences between a common cold and the flu—and locked the wheels. Carol lowered the bed to a safe working height. Its guardrails were already down.

Wrapping her arms around him, Carol lifted him up onto the bed. She and Smith then turned him and scooted him into place with their arms supporting his upper-middle back and knees. They then covered him with a couple of blankets and adjusted his pillow.

Although his facial expression didn’t change, everyone agreed he looked much more relaxed.

Shannon Carroll, Genesis Center President & CEO, said later that day that the Genesis Center “would not be where we are right now” without the less restrictive grants given to the Center by the Foundation.

“They help us so much,” she said. “The Rhode Island Foundation, to me, is awesome. They really understand that nonprofits like ours need flexible funding so we can be adaptable to the community’s needs. Beyond the dollars, they give so much nonprofit support, whether it be leadership support or event board referrals… the Foundation is just an endless source of knowledge and expertise.”