In 2007, the Center for People in Need relocated to the former Rod Kush showroom and warehouse on North 27th Street. The purchase of nearly half (60,000 square feet) of this commercial building was made possible by the generous support of the community and a $1 million anonymous donation. The expansion of our program, office, warehouse and storage space allowed the Center to increase services to the underserved families and individuals in our community.
In late 2008, the Center was able to purchase the remaining portion of the building. The Center now has a total of 100,000 square feet of space to support our current services, implement new programs and develop partnerships with other agencies and organizations. The renovation of the space was completed in October 2009 and is being used to house new job skills training programs and increase educational opportunities for low-income workers. The expansion provides classrooms, areas for employment training, conference rooms, a professional kitchen and a 24-seat computer lab.
These programs are available at no charge to welfare-to-work clients, immigrants, vocational rehabilitation participants, displaced workers and those lacking the most basic employment skills. The target population is the nearly 25% of the low-income population in Lancaster County who do not have a high school diploma or GED (2007 Center for People in Need survey). The programs offered through the Center benefit those without the financial means to pay tuition or the necessary pre-requisites to be accepted into other programs.
Job training and work experience programs are offered for skilled and semi-skilled occupations. Selected training focuses on areas where state labor data indicates participants will have the best opportunities for employment and advancement. These areas include warehouse safety/forklift operation, inventory, merchandise stocking, janitorial training, food service, computer/basic office skills and the Pathways out of Poverty green construction program (through a partnership with Southeast Community College).
The 24-seat computer lab is an essential component of this project. The computer lab acts as a technology-based classroom where participants can access on-line training and view instructional DVDs. Utilizing the computer lab for instructional delivery also encourages participants to develop basic computer skills. Computer instruction is available in Spanish, Arabic and other languages. The classes are provided at no charge to low-income clients.
Educational opportunities include General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and English as Second Language (ESL) classes. These classes are provided free of charge through a partnership with Southeast Community College. In addition to these classes, participants are able to improve ESL skills and work on obtaining their GED in the computer lab.