News & Event
It was the phone call no one wants. The day after her son graduated from high school, LaGracia Guice-Williams received a call from her employer, a funeral home. She was told not to come in to her job as director the next day.
It was the phone call no one wants.
The day after her son graduated from high school, LaGracia Guice-Williams received a call from her employer, a funeral home. She was told not to come in to her job as director the next day.
“That was how they let me go after ten and a half years,” she said. “It had never happened to me before. It was a shock.”
“One day you go from being employed and the next day you’re not,” she added. “I had to really buckle
At a time when economic conditions have made it
even more difficult for displaced workers to get by,
LaGracia shares that she was “one of the lucky ones,”
because she did have some savings and was able to
make mortgage payments through the first of the
But it was scary.
“I was 52 years old at the time and I’m thinking, ‘what
am I going to do?’ You hear all the stories of how
difficult it is for older people to start over. I had a kid
getting ready to go to college and the other one was
just two years behind. I had a mortgage,” she said.
LaGracia had reinvented herself in the past.
her husband passed away from cancer. After being
a stay-at-home mom for ten years, she became a
licensed funeral director.
This time, she started applying for jobs, but also
looked through class offerings at Great Oaks Career
She spotted a three-month training session
for health unit coordinators. With help from the
dislocated worker program of the Southwest Ohio
Region Workforce Investment Board, LaGracia found
herself back in the classroom within a month.
She was nervous.
A 1977 graduate of Wilmington
College, it had been awhile since she had been in
class. But she found the atmosphere supportive. She
said Great Oaks makes every effort to help its students
For example, they’ll help students find
child care, provide tutoring and interview coaching.
Students get job search help, with hospitals even coming
to Great Oaks to meet program graduates.
“If you fail at Great Oaks, it’s your own fault,” LaGracia
Six months after losing her job, LaGracia became a
health unit coordinator at Children’s Hospital Medical
Center in the rehabilitation unit. Her position involves
supporting the nurses on her unit by taking phone
calls, ordering supplies and admitting and discharging
She loves her job and being on a career path where
her skills are needed.
Since Children’s has tuition
reimbursement, she’s considering getting a master’s
“We have been very fortunate to have gotten
LaGracia as a member of our team,” said her supervisor,
Adrienne Martin, Clinical Director for A4C1
Rehabilitation. “She brings experience from a previous
profession and integrates it into her new one.”
“Getting laid off was traumatic,” LaGracia said. “But I
couldn’t have had a better outcome.”
LaGracia benefited from the Great Oaks program
which is under the umbrella of the Health
Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati. Its
mission is to establish a pool of excellent health
care workers and meet the needs of health care
Following this model and its success, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation created the Greater Cincinnati Workforce
Network to help fill jobs that are in demand and
help adults get the training they need to be able to
do these jobs. Besides health care, the Workforce
Network is focusing on the construction and
advanced manufacturing sectors. Read more at
Originally published in the 2009 Annual Report
As we wrap up 2019, we look back at our very impactful year of moving forward on many fronts! As your community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is grateful for the support of and partnerships with our donors, nonprofit partners and community stakeholders to bring about a more equitable future for everyone in our region.