Thursday, December 25, 2014

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Finger Lakes

New Computer Lab Provides Opportunity in Southwest Neighborhood

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A new computer lab in the Southwest neighborhood of Rochester celebrated its grand opening Monday. One non-profit organization is striving to strengthen the community by helping its residents find employment.

"Just looking at the latest unemployment rates, drilled down by zip code, I was able to uncover that we have a significant gap as it relates to unemployment in this area,” said Robert Walker Smith, SWAN Executive Director.

A gap that's closing, as residents in Southwest Rochester enter the digital age. The Southwest Area Neighborhood Association, known as SWAN, is helping the community put its best foot forward.

"Develop their resumes and apply for job openings in the Rochester market all for free,” Walker Smith said.

The newly renovated center offers computer and job search training for adults during the day, and tutoring services are offered to children after school. The lab allows people to take their time with the application process.

"If you’re using it and you're filling out an application an hour isn't long enough, you have to ask for extended time and sometimes they don't give you the extended time. Very frustrating," said Nicole Sims, Rochester resident.

Access to computers is half the battle. Facilitators will be available to show you the best employment sites and how to properly format your resume. The lab is also equipped with Skype, for those out of state positions.

"I don't have Powerpoint at home and I don't have Microsoft Word at home," said Anarah Swift, high school student.

For now, Amarah uses the lab for help with school presentations but says this will be an asset when she looks for a job.

The computer center is also open to seniors and students looking to take college courses online.

"So imagine community residents taking introductory courses right in this building,” said Walker Smith.

So as Nicole Sims searches for jobs and her daughter does her homework, Nicole says now that there is access, opportunity isn't far behind.

"You have to stay prepared and do what you have to do, it's not easy but if you're persistent it will all work out."

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