Partnership with VWCC brings classes to low-income public housing

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR News) – A partnership between the Roanoke area housing authority and Virginia Western Community College is taking some college courses to the students.

Thanks to a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, RSVP, if they qualify, they pay nothing.

Residents at the Villages at Lincoln are getting pharmacy technician classes from Virginia Western.

The local housing authority approached Virginia Western about bringing a class to their site, to help those who struggle with transportation.

“I just thought that it was a great opportunity. It’s not very often that somebody comes to you and is like, ‘hey! you can do this and we’ll pay for it,'” said Faith Ashley, who is a student is the pharmacy technician course.

She recently graduated high school and says the class is helping her figure out her next steps.

“I had just had a baby so I was trying to figure out a way to actually do the things, that I wanted to do, as far as building a business, and actually being able to be present as a parent,” Ashley said.

The class meets three times a week at the Villages of Lincoln in the community room. But just because she doesn’t have to travel far to get there, Faith says that doesn’t make it any less challenging.

“You have to make sure that you’re studying. You have to be diligent. You have to actually put in that work because it’s not like high school,” said Ashley.

“You’re not going there every day. You’re not being hounded by a teacher.”

The Planner School of Career Corporate Training Operations Manager from Virginia Western Community College Amanda Decker says they asked what the residents were interested in and picked a course they would be able to bring to them.

“Obviously, you can’t bring a machining lab or a nursing lab to a community. Those things aren’t portable. So we had to identify training that was portable and we settled on pharmacy technician,” Decker said.

The class isn’t just about the subject, but there is also a success element to help the students set goals and learn other skills to be successful.

“Planning for if your childcare falls through or if your transportation falls through once you get a job. What do you do? Budgeting. Some computer literacy,” said Decker.

It’s all work that Faith says is making a difference.

“Just being around such positive people and knowing that the people that I have around me are genuinely dedicated to making sure that I succeed, has been one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had,” said Ashley.

Virginia Western is also offering a Certified Nursing Assistant program and other programs through this same grant. As of now, those classes will be at Virginia Western’s Campus, but they are open to doing more here in the future.

If anyone is interested in learning more about RSVP funding or any of the Career training programs they can visit this link, or call 540-857-6076 option 3, or email to

A click here for more information on the Roanoke EnVision Center which is a division on the housing authority that partnered to bring the class to their site.


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