New community-based workforce center opens in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new, first-of-its-kind,  community based workforce center opens its doors in Richmond today. The center is a partnership between local and state agencies to help get you back to work and school.

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and other community leaders barely had a chance to cut the ribbon on this workforce center, before people living in the community started showing up.

That includes people like Marilyn Hodge, unemployed for nearly three years, now looking for work and looking to make a difference, for herself and this community.

"I walk around this community, I see the young men with nothing to do. I really think it's going to make an impact. I hope it does. I really hope so!" says Marilyn.

Her hope is shared by church leaders.

"We believe this is part of bringing the kingdom to the community. It's more than worship, it's more than singing and shouting on Sunday morning. It's what we do through the week," says Fifth Street Baptist Church Pastor F. Todd Gray.

Several computers line the new center. You can stop by, work with a counselor, look for a job, build your resume, or get yourself back on track.

Mayor Jones says it's especially important considering the high unemployment rate here in the city. "And when you get to black men and teenage unemployment, the numbers are even more staggering and that's what makes this place important."

The grand idea is to get people trained to work right here in their community, including building hundreds of homes on the empty lot, which used to be Dove Court.

"And by having the workforce center here in the community, I'm confident that'll happen," says City Councilwoman Ellen Robertson.

An investment in the community, that can go a long way for so many, "feel better about myself, because I don't feel good without a job," add Marilyn.

The center is located at 2800 Third Street, in Richmond at the Fifth Street Baptist Church. The center is open right now from 9-1pm Monday and Tuesday. Leaders want to expand those hours. Also, there is a plan to open another similar center on the Southside and East End by July of next year.

The center does have childcare while you search for jobs and also has a Dress for Success Center. If you can donate some clothes, call 646-6464.

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