Health group offers job training

On a Monday morning in November, a group of administrative assistants, customer service professionals, medical assistants, and case managers all gathered at an inconspicuous storefront on Hunts Point Avenue with a common goal: To find more fulfilling work.

The cross section of workers and unemployed gathered at Project H.O.P.E. , a branch of Urban Health Plan, hoping that the skills they are being taught will lead them to find good jobs, which the agency says is vital for good health.

The organization “realized that a lot of unemployed people develop health problems,” said Miguel Calderon, its workforce development coordinator.

Along with the job training program, the center offers exercise facilities to help clients stay active when they are jobless, looking to change jobs or in some cases simply hoping to stay physically active during the long work day.

“I come to the zumba class because I love the exercise,” said Wilma Vargas, who works as a manager in an auto-glass shop in Hunts Point.

Although most of the people who use the free service are from the neighborhood, clients from around the city are welcome, according to Calderon, who added that the program has helped put over 100 job seekers to work since it was established last year. Many have been placed through the center’s network of local employers. Interviewing skills, resume preparation and job readiness are among the skills the center emphasizes in the job training class.

“I’ve been using the center for three weeks and already been sent to employers. The center gave me hope,” said Joseph IIlanos, who has used his training to apply for driving positions.

To keep parents from worrying about their kids while participating in classes, the center offers childcare and help with homework on Thursdays after school.

“Some kids are not safe at home and this is a safe environment,” said Jamine Williams, a childcare professional who began using the center in October. “The community needs more places like this.”

Project H.O.P.E. can be reached Mondays through Fridays from 9 to 5 by calling 347-271-3755/3759.


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