On Wednesday, December 16, 2009, sixteen students, ages 16-24, from the Worcester Community Action Council, Inc. Job & Education Center (JEC), accompanied by the WCAC computer instructor, opened library cards at the Worcester Public Library to assist with their individualized career readiness program.

Dr. Judy Finkel, JEC Project Director and President of the WPL Board of Directors, believes that this is a truly beneficial opportunity for these young people. “We have formed a perfect partnership. The library cards will enable the students to borrow from the full range of library resources, and, most importantly, at this stage of their job and career search, to provide access to the library’s vast resources including on-line data bases and services.”

The JEC students, who have been enrolled in the program for 5 weeks and have completed 37.5 hours of Pre-Employment Training, are excited about this new resource, as well. “Obtaining a library card will give me the opportunity to have access to books so I can improve my reading skills. If people do not have computers like me, they can go to the library to access materials on-line. I am also looking forward to bringing my daughter there to get books, rent movies, and play computer games,” said Leslie Gonzalez, JEC student.

Students were provided with a guided tour of the library, as well as a thorough explanation of the library’s many valuable resources. Students were delighted to learn about free internet access, a computer lab, resume writing support, mock interview assistance, and many workshops that are open to the public. They were informed that their newly-opened library cards provided them with discounts at local attractions such as museums and theaters. For the majority of the students, this was their first-time utilizing the library.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federally funded Job & Education Center connects participants to educational and employment supports including Adult Basic Education (ABE) and GED classes, college readiness skills, High School Credit Recovery, college certificate programs, career exploration, internship opportunities, job coaching, and job placement. Each JEC participant will receive case management and support in the transition to meaningful employment and an improved quality of life.

“We are thrilled to be able to host an alternative education program at WCAC,” remarked Jill C. Dagilis, Executive Director.