Surfing for jobs by yummy-porky, http://www.flickr.com/photos/yummy-porky/2616520438/
On Tuesday, a City Council Committee will vote on funding the new West Oakland Job Resource Center. This center can help make Oakland a better, safer place to live for youth like me by getting us to the good jobs at the old Oakland Army Base.
I am 23 years old. I grew up in North Oakland and now I live in West Oakland with my cousin, my girlfriend and my 1-year-old daughter, Mirage. I am unemployed now, but I have dreams of achieving my high school diploma, going to college and getting a good job to support myself and my family.
There are a lot of people in my situation - who are unemployed and are looking for the next thing. A lot of times, here in Oakland, if people can't get what they need right now, they want to do it another way. I know what that’s like.
Back in high school, I wasn’t thinking about my future or about how I needed an education to get a job. I did what I thought I needed to do in, but ended up getting myself into trouble.
I know better now.
What changed for me? My daughter.
When she was born, my whole life changed. I used to only see things from my perspective. Now I see how any decision I make affects her. I take care of her and enrolled her in a Head Start program. She takes care of me too: My favorite thing about her is that when I’m mad, she climbs on me and kisses me and makes me laugh. I want to be there for her and be the father to her that I never had.
I am also a leader with the Urban Peace Movement. We work to stop the violence in Oakland and promote peace in the streets. We facilitate workshops (at high schools) about the economy and how violence is connected to the lack of jobs.
Just like I changed, we have the chance to change Oakland. The Oakland Army Base project and the job resource center will create opportunities for young men like me to work. For the city to create jobs and then, on top of that, establish a center where people can actually get the skills necessary to do the jobs - I think that's big.
I truly believe if there were more job opportunities, there wouldn’t be so much violence and people wouldn’t be as desperate. After being in jail for years, my older brother couldn’t find a job because employers wouldn’t give him a chance. Now, he’s back in jail again.
The Army Base and the job resource center can actually help make people’s lives better. There’s local hire, which means Oakland residents are going to get those jobs. And “ban the box” on applications means people like my brother have a fair chance.
But to make all that work, we need the job resource center to connect people like me to the training and jobs that we need to create a brighter future for our families and for our town.