One of the most hopeful ministries the Northeastern Iowa Synod sponsors is Barnabas Uplift.

Barnabas Uplift’s mission is to eliminate poverty by encouraging individuals, families and communities to move towards self-sufficiency.

The Barnabas Uplift program provides Certified Nurse Aide training to move low income Iowans into a career in health care. Through professional training and support throughout the process, the partners of Barnabas Uplift provide encouragement that is focused on eliminating poverty.

Barnabas Uplift works with area community colleges and sponsoring churches to offer the 80-hour instruction and clinical course to prepare students for the CNA certification exam and a career as nursing assistants.

The name “Barnabas” honors a member of the second set of Apostles, Joseph, nicknamed Barnabas.  The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”  Barnabas encouraged many to speak about their faith.

It was Barnabas who was a sponsor for Paul after Paul’s conversion.  It was Barnabas who encouraged the other disciples to receive Paul.
And it was Barnabas who encouraged Paul to go to Antioch. Together they taught the members of the early churches and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So the name Barnabas honors the work of churches and other faith-based organizations in the work they do to help others—especially low-income Iowans.

“Uplift” honors the work and commitment of religious and secular organizations and groups as they diligently work alongside low-income Iowans, providing opportunities that would lift them up—economically and emotionally.

Put these two words together and you have Barnabas Uplift,

an organization that encourages individuals, families, and communities to become self-sufficient, working to alleviate poverty in Iowa.

Barnabas Uplift was created after Lutheran Services in Iowa identified hopelessness as the deepest problem facing Iowa residents. It was caused by jobs that weren’t good enough, limited access to health care and substance abuse.

“Barnabas Uplift starts with joblessness and lack of health care,” says Mark A. Anderson, assistant to the Northeastern Iowa Synod bishop.

“The two are tied together. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have health insurance and you can’t afford preventive health measures, which compounds your future health costs.”

The solution that emerged is a one-stop network where people with limited resources get coordinated help from agencies, banks and development groups.

They become certified nursing assistants, start businesses, build savings, work toward owning homes, get health care, use the earned income tax credit and obtain substance abuse education.

(See The Lutheran February 2006)

Along with the recognition of the problem of poverty and low paying jobs was the fact that there is currently a shortage of Certified Nursing Assistants for hospitals and care facilities.

It seemed a logical solution to train people for these jobs to fill that need.

Not only do CNA positions help lift people out of poverty by providing stable better paying work with benefits, it puts the person in a position to receive even more training for better paid positions.

This can be life changing.

Barnabas Uplift works with area community colleges and sponsoring churches to offer the 80-hour instruction and clinical course to prepare students for the CNA certification exam and a career as nursing assistants.

St. Paul, Postville Class

Currently St. Paul Lutheran in Postville works with the Northeast Iowa Community College to provide training at the church where NICC instructors provide the training sessions in a dedicated classroom and practice lab, as well as at the practice lab at NICC. Clinical training takes place at a local nursing home.

The CNA training program is offered free for qualified individuals who have an income that is no more than 200 percent above the poverty line.

Graduating Class at Good Shepherd, Waterloo

Good Shepherd Lutheran in Waterloo recently provided training for six students through Hawkeye Community College.  The graduates were recognized in September.

If you or your congregation is interested in supporting this ministry, contact Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson at the Synod Office.

Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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