With four campuses, there’s a lot going on at the Community College of Allegheny County. In fact, it might be fair to say that with the number of programs and opportunities across the campuses, some events might slip the attention of the CCAC community.
While the hubbub of daily life can often hinder CCAC faculty and staff from taking advantage of opportunities, HR Connect sat down with CCAC representatives to highlight several programs and opportunities that are underutilized by school employees.
Mike Swartzendruber, CCAC’s benefits director, says the opportunities can range from simple services to full programs. For example, school employees can earn discounts on their cellphone bills from area providers such as Verizon or AT&T by providing the companies with proof of employment. Swartzendruber says the savings could be as much as 10 to 20 percent. That kind of reduction can add up to significant savings over the course of a year.
Another program the school offers through its insurance program is the Healthwise Fitness card. While there are fitness centers across the four CCAC campuses, not all faculty and staff find them convenient. The Healthwise Fitness Card is often more suitable. For $25 per month insurance subscribers gain access to fitness chains that participate in the program. Those fitness centers are often closer to employees’ homes, and children and spouses are eligible to use the plan as well, Swartzendruber says.
“It’s a nationwide program so people can use it wherever participating centers can be found,” he says.
While those are great resources for members of the CCAC family, Swartzendruber says there is one program of enormous value that is oftentimes overlooked: CCAC’s partnership with Lytle EAP Partners. There are several key benefits with the Employee Assistance Program through the partnership. One such benefit is the Home Safe program. This allows those who require a taxi or Uber ride home due to having one-too-many cocktails to be reimbursed for some or all of their ride. Swartzendruber says participants should keep their receipts and can be reimbursed up to $25 and up to three times a year.
While that’s a nice deterrent to impaired driving, Lytle EAP provides far more important services to the CCAC family.
“We try to help with the bigs and the littles of life and everything in between,” says Lytle EAP’s Beverly Brem.
Lytle EAP provides free counseling services for just about anything, be it stress, family issues, emotional issues, financial and tax issues, legal issues and so much more. Brem says people can call in and receive immediate assistance over the phone without having to set up an appointment and come visit the office. But office visits are always an option.
“We encourage people to contact us sooner than later,” Brem says. “We can help people with most any kind of personal issue. We can help people plan and figure out those challenges.”
Brem says the Lytle EAP services are a one-stop shop for people who need counseling or guidance on how to find answers to important questions. One service gaining popularity is medical advocacy. This program helps participants find care facilities for family members being discharged from hospitals. This can include physical therapy and rehabilitation centers or nursing homes.
Taste the flavor
There are other on-site programs that members of the CCAC family can find that will provide a little something extra to their time on campus. One program is run through the college’s culinary arts program. Once a week for about nine weeks each semester students involved in the program put together a menu and sell their food creations on campus. Richard Betters, the dean who oversees the program, says the Culinary Corner provides students with restaurant experience. The students learn how to plan and prepare a menu, as well as how to purchase food and operate within a budget.
“They’ve come light-years from the toasted cheese sandwiches that were first offered three years ago,” Betters says. “It’s a great benefit. As soon as you open the door to the building they’re in the smells are wonderful. The students have done a great job.”
The Culinary Corner sets up on Thursdays. Food is initially prepared in the culinary program’s kitchen then brought to where the shop is assembled. Foods are kept warm on hot plates, and the culinary students assemble menu items in front of the customers. Before the Christmas 2017 break, the Culinary Corner featured a taco bar, which Betters says was very popular.
With the planned construction of a workforce development center on campus next year Betters says the culinary program will gain a new kitchen and an area to expand the Culinary Corner with more seating for customers.
While tasty lunches prepared by budding chefs are a great benefit, the school has another program that can help those concerned with the foods they’re eating. The CCAC Dietetic Program can help with weight loss. During health fairs the program often employs a handheld body composition analysis machine to help calculate weight loss goals.
While the handheld body composition analysis machine is an important tool, it is not a tool readily available to anyone outside the dietetics program, says Miriam Wilson, a registered dietician and director of the school dietetics program. One dietetics program benefit that has been more widely used across campus is a healthy eating platform based on the federal MyPlate program. Last year during the spring semester, the Student Dietetic Association sponsored a six-week healthy eating class based on MyPlate. This program was offered on the Allegheny campus and was open to students, faculty and staff. Because of the strong positive response last year, Wilson says the SDA is planning on running the program again this spring.
“This spring, employees can also watch for the SDA partnering with the student nurse association to promote diabetes awareness, providing educational materials and screenings on this topic,” Wilson says.
For more information regarding the class, contact Miriam Wilson at MWilson@CCAC.edu.