|Louisiana Center Helps Resident Chart New Life Course|
Monroe, LA—Two years ago, Allah York was a self-described “couch potato.” Lacking both goals and initiative, York’s approach to life was to wait for opportunities to present themselves to her. Thankfully for York, opportunity was located just a few doors away at her local Neighborhood Networks center.
Today, York has a new and empowering lease on life. In June, the long-time resident of the Kingsway Apartments graduated from the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), a local nonprofit organization that offers workforce development and education programs, and she has set her career sights on the stars. York credits the caring and supportive staff of The Ampy Community Center for helping her to become more proactive and focused about the direction of her future and that of her two sons.
Allah York graduated from the service initiation program at the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) in June. York attributes her success in completing the program to the training, encouragement, and support she received from staff of The Ampy Community Center.
A New Direction
For York, the connection with The Ampy Community Center is familial. Her cousin James “China” Ampy, for whom the center is named, helped with the construction. When he passed away shortly after the structure was built, York chose to embrace the center as a symbol of her cousin’s great accomplishments instead of shunning its presence as a painful reminder of her loss. She also chose to honor him by visiting the beautiful venue for learning that he helped to construct. It was inside these walls that York was empowered to develop self-confidence and embrace a new direction for her life. And, it shows.
“What stands out most about Allah is her constant smile,” stated Center Director Angelica G. Manabal. “I have been with the center since September 2008, and whenever I see Allah, she is always pleasant as she uses the Internet to post pictures and keep in touch with her family and friends.”
Building on the Basics
Although York was computer literate before visiting the center, she knew she needed additional training on how to use the various software programs correctly, particularly Microsoft Office 2007 XP. Center staff encouraged York to enroll in the center’s six-week basic computer training course that meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. York did just that.
The classes offered at The Ampy Community Center are purposefully kept small, affording students more one-on-one interaction with the instructor. Smaller class sizes also encourage friendships among the class members.
“The instructors at The Ampy Community Center make you feel so comfortable that you want to come to class,” explained York. “You look forward to learning and interacting with the other students.”
In the class, York learned basic computer literacy, including keyboarding, Microsoft Office software applications, sending e-mails, rebooting, and troubleshooting problems. But, it was learning how to design files and professional documents that York found most valuable.
“Completing this course gave me the drive and motivation to further my education and strive for better things in my life,” York described. “It gave me a sense of independence.”
With this mindset and determination, York enrolled in the service initiation program at the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC). “The service initiation program focuses on areas such as professional customer service and hotel and motel management,” reported York. “Many of the students were not as knowledgeable in the use of computers, and it was a setback for some of them. But not for me, I actually helped others in my class navigate the various computer programs and develop competent skills. I owe it all to The Ampy Community Center. They helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed, and now, I am helping others.”
Looking Forward to the Future
Equipped with new skills, York is excited about the prospects for her future. “If it was not for the support and encouragement of center staff, I would be still sitting on the couch and expecting everything to come to me,” said York. “I never really thought that I had a future. They have inspired and motivated me to set my goals high and be proactive about my future.”
York graduated from OIC in June, and her goal is to find employment in the customer service industry. Eventually, she plans to pursue a career in the legal field. “I plan on starting out as a legal secretary and then setting my sights higher,” she added.
York encourages other residents to not only see the center as a place for learning, but also as a haven that promotes neighborhood involvement. York concluded by saying, “I think people should get out, meet their neighbors, and visit the center, which is a place where we can get to know each other better and build a stronger community. I would like to tell everyone that anything is possible if you dedicate yourself and stay focused. Let your mission in this apartment community be to move-in, move-up, and move-out.”
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in Louisiana, contact:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Shreveport Multifamily Program Center
401 Edwards Street, Suite 1510
Shreveport, LA 71101
For more information about The Ampy Community Center, contact:
Angelica G. Manabal
The Ampy Community Center
4205 Elm Street
Monroe, LA 71203
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)