Voices From the Lab: Everyone gets what they need in the Magnolia Park lab

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UPDATED: On February 21, 2012, Imelda emailed our Program Specialists with great news! Her previous employer has rehired her, and she began training on February 28. She ends her email with a ‘thank you’ and a hope to continue classes in the summer. “She spent hours in class and applying for jobs online,” says Program Specialist Imicuk. “I am so happy for her!”

In Magnolia Park—named after 3,750 magnolias once planted there—Houston’s Mexican-American population has thrived since 1911 as settlers widened the Buffalo Bayou for the Ship Channel.

One of 12 Magnolia Roots panelsOrganizations and clubs like the Club Cultural Recreativo Mexico Bello, League of United Latin American Citizens and The Escuela Mexicana Hidalga created and preserved the Hispanic culture in this booming working-class neighborhood. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the area reported local activism for the Chicano movement, including the YWCA’s Conferencia de Mejueres por la Raza in 1971.

At the Magnolia Multi-Service Center, another resource is available for empowerment: free computer technology and support. When Imelda was laid off from her job, she immediately headed for the Magnolia Multi-Service Center for resources. What she found was a Technology For All (TFA) flier for the center’s new computer lab. “Before, they had nothing like this here. I’m not familiar with this stuff, but they [TFA Program Specialists Chris and Imicuk] are like teachers.”

She uses the labs for resume building and job searches through websites like indeed.com and local hospitals. “They’re helping me get familiar with resumes and all the things I don’t know how to do. No complaints about them.” Because Imelda received on-the-job training as a lab specialist, working towards a license is part of her job search. Using online resources has helped her find and apply for jobs, especially since so many applications are submitted online. “We need this in this area. A lot of the people are enthusiastic to learn and take advantage of this, especially for jobs.”

Besides job preparation, the Program Specialists help her navigate the Internet’s opportunities and scams. “Some websites have ads for jobs, but when I try to apply they ask for private information. They’re scams.”

Imelda wants everyone to use the lab, especially while the local library is remodeled. “It works out for the people in the neighborhood; they need it here.” Many people don’t have home computers, she says; Imelda rents a laptop. “If I get stuck, I come here with the problem.” And when the new Metrorail stop is completed in Magnolia Park, “Everyone can come straight here.” Imelda is already signed up for TFA’s computer basics class at the center. “Everyone who comes in gets what they need.”

Magnolia Park Multi-Service Center offers a learning center, a health center, day care and more. For more information, call (713) 928-9515 or visit 7037 Capitol St.

Source: Technology For All

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