RESTORE: One Graduate’s Story
Getting the support she needed: TAP’s Re-employment, Support, and Training for the Opioid-Related Epidemic (or RESTORE) program.
It’s fair to say that the pandemic has been tough on everyone over the past 16 months. But for those people already struggling before the pandemic, life got much harder. Before COVID-19 reached the Roanoke Valley, Tabitha Harper had gained full custody of her grandchildren but was unemployed and seeking a job. The economic downturn made that search much more difficult. “Life was rough. We were struggling,” she says. That’s when Tabitha joined our Re-employment, Support, and Training for the Opioid-Related Epidemic (or RESTORE) program.
TAP’s RESTORE Program
TAP is one of five agencies in the country granted US Department of Labor funds to operate RESTORE. The program assists people impacted by the opioid epidemic by offering support, career services, job training, and certifications to women in recovery and their affected families—including Tabitha, who found herself with greater financial responsibility for sustaining her household due to the opioid crisis. “I joined RESTORE to get assistance with training and employment so that I could better myself for my grandchildren,” Tabitha says.
RESTORE ‘s training options include food service and safety, nursing assistant, clinical medical assistant, and various construction education and research certifications. Tabitha chose to build on her past experience and work toward a career in medicine. “I had previously worked in the medical field as a CNA. I wanted to further my career in the medical field and continue to help those in need,” she says.
Working Hard for Success
Working through the RESTORE program while taking on family responsibilities and the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t always easy. At times, Tabitha was stressed about squeezing in her studies while dealing with the pressure of her other obligations. She admits, “I did not think I was going to be able to finish the class.” However, she persevered, with a little help. Tabitha credits Program Mentor Jennifer Miller and Instructor Deborah Greimel (known as “Dr. G” to the students) with encouraging her to reach the finish line. “They helped me through some of the hardest times in my life and pushed me to succeed,” Tabitha says.
Now a certified clinical medical assistant, Tabitha started a new career with Carilion Clinic in April 2021. She recommends RESTORE, and other TAP programs, to others struggling as she was. Tabitha has a message to those people: “Keep moving forward. Do not be afraid to ask for help. The help is there.”