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We witness HPOG’s transformational success stories in the desert

Posted by Kate Jolley on Jun 7, 2017 10:43 AM

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Upon exiting the Tucson airport terminal, I immediately noticed two things: the color brown and the desert sun—both of which could prove to be a challenge for filming. We had traveled to Tucson, Arizona, to complete on-location video production for our client, the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program, and it quickly proved to be one of the most inspiring trips of my professional career.

HPOG, a program administered by the Administration for Children and Families, provides education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals for occupations in the health care field. Funds are awarded to 32 grantees around the country, so they can provide their participants the opportunity to obtain higher education, training, and the support services needed to secure a true career pathway.  

The video we are producing will be used by the program’s grantees as a participant recruitment tool. Therefore, it was imperative that we complete compelling, in-person interviews with a few participants who had completed the program as well as some HPOG grantee program directors.

That is how we found ourselves standing on a curb in Tucson, staring at a cactus-riddled landscape, with our sweat evaporating as quickly as it was produced—a phenomenon unknown to most Floridians. 

Despite the colorless terrain and harsh lighting, in just three days, we were able to complete six interviews, capture B-roll, shoot still photography, and yes, eat some authentic Mexican food. 

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Our work for HPOG is always rewarding, but it’s these site visits when we witness the program in action that open our eyes to its importance. It is nothing less than inspiring to see firsthand the effect the program has on its participants, and, in turn, the respect and gratitude participants have for the program, which aims to transition them from government assistance to a career that can support their families.

Our four-person crew hustled from location to location, meeting participants and program directors at their homes and their places of work. Between interviews, we caught some striking views and even a roadrunner or two (they do exist!). During the day, the desert sun may suck you dry (literally), but the sunsets are some of the most stunning to behold—a metaphor for hard work, perhaps?

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One of our previous videos for HPOG, “Misty’s Story,” won a Gold ADDY award. You can view that video as well as a video featuring another grantee here.