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From the archives: This program aims to build careers for Oak Cliff residents

In some pockets of Oak Cliff, people are making less than $11,000 per year. Oak Cliff Works is working to change that.

Editor's note: This story originally aired in 2018. Since then, Gregory Cabello has completed his program with Oak Cliff Works. He will begin a nursing program in January at University of Texas at Arlington. 

There is a new program working to make sure individuals in southern Dallas have access to the resources needed to make, shape, and create career pathways.

Oak Cliff Works is providing training resources and access to certification for individuals living in areas where unemployment and/or underemployment is high.

The program, sponsored by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, is working with businesses and organizations to provide career and skills training in areas including healthcare, information technology, business, hospitality, construction, and automotive among other areas.

Gregory Cabello is among the students in the health care cohort. They are taking classes with instructors at Methodist Charlton. Each week, a small group of students in this career path works with patients and staff. Organizers from Oak Cliff Works say they are making career training available to people who want it.

“I think it is a game-changer because it provides people in the lower-middle class to be able to have an opportunity to join the program without having to pay anything, worry about finances,” Cabello said.

Organizers call Oak Cliff Works the “southern sector connector.” It’s teaming with businesses to bring opportunities to people in their own neighborhood.

Erica Frierson is another student in the healthcare program. She was a longtime caregiver for her mom, and already had experience as a certified nurses assistant. She says the program is helping her advance.

“I wanted to sharpen my skills, because they have, like, new technology,” Frierson said. “And I wanted to be able to keep up my skills to help the patients.”

The training through Oak Cliff Works is intense. At Methodist Charlton, instructors say it goes far beyond a patient’s physical needs.

“We’re teaching them also teaching them how to take care of the spiritual, the holistic,” instructor Cheyenne Ruby said. “The emotional needs that come with a patient being in the hospital.”

Oak Cliff Works is tackling challenges in areas impacted by poverty, poor education, and inadequate transportation.

“As we all know there are pockets of poverty all over this city. But in particularly, in the southern sector there are some areas in which individuals are not making more than $11,000 a year,” Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce President Kiyundra Gulley said.

The program is designed to change the dynamics, offering hands-on classes. It positions people who want to stay in their community a chance to have a career they can be proud of.

“I know what I’m doing,” Frierson said. “I’m bringing my love to the table and my compassion.”

Like Frierson, Cabello said he also wants more for himself and his family.

“How I grew up here in Oak Cliff, we came from nothing, to be honest,” he said. “Nothing in the refrigerator, you know. You kind of want to break that chain. That paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.

“And you want to become something in life.”

To learn more about the resources, training, and opportunities available through Oak Cliff Works, call 214-943-4568 ext. 208. Or you can visit: www.OakCliffWorks.Org.