Helping the Homeless and Underemployed Find Hope

Oaklanders Hard-Pressed to Find Housing Even with Minimum Wage Jobs

Stacey Harris with his son. Photo by Adam L. Turner.

 Stacey Harris with his son. Photo by Adam L. Turner.

Stacey Harris is on a mission to provide for himself and his son in this challenging economy. As a single father who is also struggling to find stable and affordable housing, securing a good job makes all the difference.

Harris and his son have been homeless, sometimes staying with friends.

Along his journey to find stable employment, Harris has attended the career center at the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC) where he says counselors helped him develop his résumé, with transportation costs and support in finding stable work. He recently enrolled in truck driving school through help from the PIC.

“Between taking care of my son, trying to find work and trying to find stable housing,” he explained, “to say it’s challenging is an understatement. It’s not easy finding stable living conditions in Alameda County. I just want to be able to take care of my son.”

 

“A Mistake Cannot Define You”

Sylvia recently started working at the Unity Council after receiving help in her job search from the Oakland PIC. Photo by Ashley Chambers.

Sylvia recently started working at the Unity Council after receiving help in her job search from the Oakland PIC. Photo by Ashley Chambers.

For Oakland resident Sylvia, one mistake should not define who a person is. She is a testament to that.

After having a run-in with the law 13 years ago, she has been searching for work for the past four years.

Last week, her search ended at the Unity Council where she now works as a program assistant. During her long job search, she had almost reached a breaking point.

“I kept thinking my record would deter me from getting a job. I felt hopeless,” Sylvia said, overcome with emotion.

After the Unity Council referred her to the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), she met counselors Louis King and Ellen Hoeft Edenfield. Their support and resources helped restore her hope in gaining employment despite her previous history.

“I met Mr. King and he gave me really good hope,” she said. “He told me, we can help you.”

“I’m very grateful for organizations like Unity Council and Oakland PIC. They really care about people. They made me feel comfortable and okay in dealing with my issue.”

She hopes to find a support group where she can help others who have a prior record find employment. Sylvia looks forward to growing in her new job and applying her computer and language skills to help her community.

(Sylvia’s last name has been omitted from the article to protect her identity).

Flax art & design Opens New Oakland Store

Howard Flax, owner of Flax Art & Design. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

Howard Flax, owner of Flax Art & Design. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

The art supply company Flax art & design is entering a new era in the business’s 78-year history with the opening of its new store in Oakland at 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

The company opened its first store on Market Street in San Francisco in 1938, and has become a staple location for art and craft supplies. The store offers an array of paint supplies, sketch books, drawing pens and pencils, urban art, journals, easels, and other art and craft products.

Howard Flax, the third generation owner after his father and grandfather, is looking forward to embracing the art and community culture in the East Bay.

Flax has one primary goal: “to inspire creativity and to present our merchandise in an environment that achieves that.”

“This is a new era for the company,” said Flax. “Every generation has had their opportunity to put a stamp on the business and to kind of make it their own. And we’ve opened now two stores in less than 6 months, which is kind of crazy.”

In the midst of relocating from the Market Street location to Oakland, Flax opened another store at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Each store has its own character, he said.

Along with this exciting new venture comes a chance to partner with local businesses and the artist community, something that Flax says he looks forward to.

One community partner is the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), which serves unemployed and underemployed Oakland residents with job and training services. While many loyal employees are following Flax to the new location from San Francisco, PIC will pre-screen for any new jobs as a business service to the employer.

Oakland PIC youth intern Teaira stocks the paper display at the new Flax store in Oakland. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

Oakland PIC youth intern Teaira stocks the paper display at the new Flax store in Oakland. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

In addition, PIC assigned several of its youth interns in the Highway to Work program to help Flax in the relocation process, shelving supplies and cleaning displays.

Oakland PIC youth intern Sarah.

Oakland PIC youth intern Sarah.

Oakland PIC youth intern Jatae.

Oakland PIC youth intern Jatae.

Flax is looking forward to building relationships with different organizations in Oakland. “Support them as we can, collaborate as we can, to further the momentum that is driving the growth of arts in the East Bay,” he said.

“We saw an opportunity to broaden our geographic reach because there are so many artists that have been moving to Oakland over the last few years,” Flax said, noting that the company had an Oakland store in the 50’s. “As I’ve become more familiar with Oakland, it really has such a cool – it’s kind of hard to describe – street vibe, a sense of community that is bubbling around, a kind of sincerity to it. It just feels real.”

“We don’t want to be like any other store. When people are shopping for art supplies, we think it should be a creative experience in itself, to find the material and to be inspired by the space you’re purchasing those products from,” he continued.

A grand opening celebration for the new Oakland store will feature live music, arts and crafts and other festivities on Saturday, April 2 from noon to 4 p.m. at 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland.

Festivities will include arts and craft tables from several vendors and an art show featuring work by Flax staff. Special guests will include the Oakland Private Industry Council, Youth Ministry, New Beginnings Ministry, Adnawal, and Love 113 Food Donators supplying their famous free bag lunches to children in the neighborhood.

Ford Freedom Unsung Honors Bay Area Heroes

Ford Freedom Unsung honorees with Pamela Alexander of the Ford  Motor Company Fund and Gay Plair Cobb, CEO of Oakland PIC, at the Ford Freedom Unsung Bay Area awards ceremony.

Ford Freedom Unsung honorees with Pamela Alexander of the Ford Motor Company Fund and Gay Plair Cobb, CEO of Oakland PIC, at the Ford Freedom Unsung Bay Area awards ceremony Dec. 8, 2015.

 

The Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc. was elated to honor African American leaders and organizations in the Bay Area at the Ford Freedom Unsung awards ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015 in Oakland, presented by Ford Motor Company.  As the community partner of the event, the Oakland PIC helped celebrate these leaders who are making significant contributions to improve the quality of life for others.

Congratulations to all the San Francisco Bay Area Ford Freedom Unsung Heroes!

Those awarded included:

Education – Cynthia M. Adams, Oral Lee Brown, Relonda Hancock-McGhee, Michael Morgan, and Charles Tinsley.

Military – Raymond Banks, Fred Bowe, Rodney Cates, and Conway B. Jones, Jr.

Youth – Darius Aikens, Alexis Foster, Danielle Garrett, Ciara Smith, and Aaliyah Washington.

Community – Carol Ferguson, Jocelyn Freeman-Garrick, Genice Jacobs, Egypt Ina King, Royce McLemore, and Randy Rowden.

Organization – Ariel Outreach Mission, The Garden Project Earth Stewards Program, The Hidden Genius Project, Lend A Hand Foundation, Inc., Men and Women of Purpose, and Solutions for At Risk Youth (SFARY).

Thank you to Ford Motor Company, Pamela Alexander, Director of Community Development with the Ford Motor Company Fund, Angela Polk, the entire Ford Freedom Unsung team, our local ambassadors and other partners for a grand event. All photos by Tasin Sabir.

Left to right, Pamela Alexander, Ford Motor Company Fund, Gay Plair Cobb and Paul Cobb, Publisher of the Post News Group.

Left to right, Pamela Alexander, Ford Motor Company Fund, Gay Plair Cobb and Paul Cobb, Publisher of the Post News Group.

Pamela Alexander, Ford Motor Company Fund, Gay Plair Cobb, and Youth Ambassador Assemblymember Tony Thurmond.

Pamela Alexander, Ford Motor Company Fund, Gay Plair Cobb and Youth Ambassador Assemblymember Tony Thurmond.

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Gay Plair Cobb and Education Ambassador Bernard McCune, Oakland Unified School District.

 

 

 

 

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Ford Freedom Unsung Education Honoree Oral Lee Brown, Gay Plair Cobb and Bernida Reagan.

Photo by www.tasinsabir.com

Pamela Alexander, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Paul Cobb, Publisher of the Post News Group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by www.tasinsabir.com

Oakland PIC staff: Mayra Ramirez, Janet Pan, Carla Liggins, Gwendolyn Madden, Olu Oluwole, Victor Chumbe, and Marilyn Norman.

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Pyramid Business Systems Helps Oaklanders Find Tech Jobs

From left to right: John Polk, project manager with Pyramid Business Systems; Jed Silver, president and CEO of Silver CDS, LLC; students in the Telecom Tech program- Brittany; Ron Smith; Deandre Jackson; Taj Jones-Kobayashi; and James Sullivan (kneeling), program instructor.

From left to right: John Polk, project manager with Pyramid Business Systems; Jed Silver, president and CEO of Silver CDS, LLC; students in the Telecom Tech program- Brittany; Ron Smith; Deandre Jackson; Taj Jones-Kobayashi; and James Sullivan (kneeling), program instructor.

When Brittany started attending the Pyramid Business Systems Telecom Tech program at Laney College this fall, she saw an opportunity to build her skills and find a job in tech, a field she already had an interest in.

In partnership with the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), the Pyramid Business Systems Telecom Tech program enrolled 15 students in August – all minority Oakland residents – equipping them with the skills to install wiring for phone and internet service to homes and businesses.

The program provides soft skills training for job seekers, teaching them about computer systems, cabling and wiring, and how to manage the networks that transmit information across the Bay Area.

Telecom Tech is just one of several programs available to clients at PIC, where job training, support and ultimately job placement and success is the end goal.

The Telecom Tech program guides students on team building, goal setting, time management and other desirable skills that employers seek. The program training funds are sponsored by the Oakland Workforce Investment Board’s (WIB) Dislocated Worker Additional Assistance Project (DWAAP).

“We help students navigate the process between landing a job and their job assessment,” said Jed Silver, president and CEO of Silver CDS, LLC and recruiter for the Telecom Tech program.

Twelve of the 15 students in the program were placed in jobs by the end of their training.

“We help employers get those individuals who have soft skills training. We attach actual employers to the program; that’s why it works,” said Silver.

Two influential figures in the industry are program instructor James Sullivan, who has worked at AT&T for over 30 years, and John Polk of Pyramid Business Systems, who has 42 years of experience in telecommunications.

Sullivan’s approach is hands-on – taking students to work sites where they put their newfound skills to use.

Two influential figures in the industry are program instructor James Sullivan, who has worked at AT&T for over 30 years, and John Polk of Pyramid Business Systems, who has 42 years of experience in telecommunications.

Taj Jones-Kobayashi does some cabling in an office building.

Taj Jones-Kobayashi does some cabling in an office building.

Sullivan’s approach is hands-on – taking students to work sites where they put their newfound skills to use.

“There’s a wide range of opportunities for me to use my knowledge in cabling and networking to get jobs in lots of places, not just office buildings,” said Taj Jones-Kobayashi, a student who will start working at AT&T this month.

“The most important part of my experience was learning something that seems complicated,” said Jones-Kobayashi. “It’s not impossible for you to learn.”

Another student, Ron Smith, will start working at Outsource, a company that works in the wiring industry.

“What we want to do is make them aware of where you can go and how many opportunities there are,” said Polk, who is also the project manager. “You can take it as far as you want to go with it.”

Richard de Jauregui, Director of Planning, Performance & Program Oversight at PIC, said, “This program was the first of our training to work initiatives that we are developing with local growth sector employers, most of whom are minority controlled. We are very grateful to John Polk and his staff for their cooperation and dedication in working with us for the benefit of our underserved clients.”

For more information, contact Jed Silver at (510) 214-5405 or jsilver@silvercds.com.

Jobs Seekers Find Work at PIC’s West Oakland Neighborhood Career Center

Left to right: Doug Graves, True Blue, Sacramento Market Manager; Nicole Jalbert True Blue, Recruiting Manager; Kimiko Lewis, entrepreneur; Marilyn Norman, OPIC, Project Director; Clint Bennett, True Blue, Regional Vice President; and Melvin Crow, job seeker. Photo by Conway Jones, courtesy of Post News Group.
Left to right: Doug Graves, True Blue, Sacramento Market Manager; Nicole Jalbert True Blue, Recruiting Manager; Kimiko Lewis, entrepreneur; Marilyn Norman, OPIC, Project Director; Clint Bennett, True Blue, Regional Vice President; and Melvin Crow, job seeker. Photo by Conway Jones, courtesy of Post News Group.

 

Printed in the Post News Group, Sept. 11, 2015

Over 40 job seekers applied for work Thursday, Sept. 10 at an on-site recruitment for True Blue a staffing and recruiting company looking to hire food production workers, hosted by the West Oakland Neighborhood Career Center.

Marilyn Norman, project director of the career center – the newest satellite operation of the Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc., was impressed by the turnout.

“We are pleased to have local job seekers and employers meet here in West Oakland at our career center,” she said. “ We specialize in helping job seekers find local, quality, sustainable jobs in the community where they live.”

“TrueBlue offers the kind of employment opportunities that our local job seekers want,” she said. “We are very happy about the outcome of today’s event.”

True Blue’s recruiting manager Nicole Jalbert said, “Out of the 40 plus job seekers we interviewed today, two-thirds of the candidates will be extended job offers.”

The West Oakland Neighborhood Career Center is located 1801 Adeline St. on the 2nd floor of the West Oakland Library in Oakland.

TekPerfect, PIC Raise Skills of Formerly Incarcerated

 

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TekPerfect founder Alfonso Hooker (left) and PIC Planning Director Richard deJauregui.

Printed in the Post News Group, May 19, 2015

TekPerfect, an Information Technology (IT) consulting, design, and support firm serving Alameda and Contra Costa County businesses, has partnered with the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC) to design and provide a specialized IT training program for ex-offenders. The training will lead to life-sustaining employment with TekPerfect, founded by local entrepreneur Alfonso Hooker.

Born and raised in East Oakland, Mr. Hooker is determined to help raise his community’s skill levels in information technology so that youth and the formerly incarcerated might also have an opportunity to be successful in digital and information technology-based careers.

“We’re starting small, but we hope to move this idea into the arena of a social enterprise to benefit Oakland’s populations facing significant barriers to employment in the IT field, which has historically frozen out reentry populations,” said Mr. Hooker.

Gay Plair Cobb, CEO of the Oakland Private Industry Council, said, “By supporting Oakland’s small businesses, we can help train our residents for future jobs with those companies as well as increasing tax revenues from both to our city.”

Open House Engages Job Seekers

The Oakland Private Industry Council hosted the first of 3 Open Houses for recipients of unemployment insurance on April 30, 2015. The purpose was to invite job seekers to interview for current vacancies at companies such as Comcast, Target, BART and Mason Tillman, & Associates. In addition, PIC informed job applicants of training resources available to re-train workers who have lost their jobs into new demand occupations.

 

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