Great Day for the San Fernando Valley
of Pacoima Community Technology Center
Wall To Wall People at the Moment"
By Stan Saunders
A stone dropped in the water creates
ripples that have effects far from the source.
That was the theme of the grand opening of the Pacoima Community
Technology Center in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, January 16. Los
Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla, a driving force for
the project, noted the importance of a technology center in an impoverished
region. "It gives adults and parents the skills they need to
apply for good jobs, while children will be armed with the knowledge
they need to excel in school and attend college. It's a great day
for Pacoima, a great day for the San Fernando Valley."
The Center brings technology, education and workforce training
resources free of charge to the community that sees more than 29%
of its population living below the poverty line. It also houses
the Valley Family Technology Project (VFTP), a $3 million technology
and workforce development partnership among corporate and government
supporters. For Dixon Slingerland, the director of Youth Policy
Institute (YPI), a non-profit organization that is the lead agency
for VFTP and the Community Technology Center, the opening was the
fulfillment of a long term goal. "We hope to level the playing
field for the residents of Pacoima. Looking around at all the excited
faces at this opening really makes the importance of this project
to the community hit home."
The technology center provides training for higher paying jobs
in a wide range of fields, notably medical office careers. Participants
also learn business English and math, Windows XP and Microsoft Office
applications. For adult learners, the Pacoima Online Academy provides
distance learning courses through a partnership with Cerritos College.
Elementary, middle and high school students can take advantage of
the youth services program, which offers academic tutoring as well
as a chance to learn multimedia software, such as PhotoShop and
InDesign. Experienced students take full responsibility for the
community website, www.pacoima.net.
The center started serving community residents earlier this month,
and has classes filled to capacity. "We're wall to wall people
at the moment," VFTP Director Mario Matute said. The facilities
include a state of the art computer lab with Pentium IV Dell computers,
a wireless laptop center with more than two dozen Dell Inspiron
4150 notebook computers, and an interactive white board at the front.
The effects are already being felt. Three of the ripples created
by the program were present at the opening. Leydra Carrillo, Bertha
Quintanilla, and Bertha Melena are members of the first graduating
class of the Medical Office Careers program. "We're here to
support the Valley Family Technology Project and the people who
work there, because they supported us when we needed education and
training," Carillo said. "They've really helped the community."
is Director of Development for Youth Policy Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org