A once shuttered building in Oakland has been given new life as a place that residents can go if they are looking to launch a career or improve on the one they already have. The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC) will hold an Open House at its new Oakland Career Center at 294 Semple Street (corner of Louisa) on Wednesday at 4 o’clock.
The building had been vacant and used for storage since the city closed it as a senior center nearly 10 years ago, according to Executive Director Wanda Wilson. With foundation and city funding, as well as volunteer muscle, the building now serves as the home for JobLinks and School 2 Career programs.
"It's very active now, with lots of people coming and going, serving a real need in the community for people to get resources for job opportunities, training for new jobs and job placements, as well as high school students learning about career opportunities they might like to pursue."
The OPDC has a contract with the City of Pittsburgh through the EARN program to help people on public assistance find jobs, which includes, among other things, training and certification for nurse assistants and home health aides. Wilson said students in the high school program have a 100% graduation rate and can get valuable mentoring and job experience before pursuing careers of their choice in college.
Wilson described the reclaiming of this building in the heart of Oakland as a "win-win" for the city and the Planning and Development Corporation, which will pay $1 a year to the city on a long-term lease. It was beginning to deteriorate and was full of old appliances, scrap metal, 60 bags of recycling and 40 bags of garbage. About 100 volunteer students and staff from Pitt helped with the landscaping, renovations and clean-up.