JVSLA ApartmentWorks fine tunes graduating class

This article, by Patricia Sanchez, appeared in The Beverly Press on 12/17/2015

Jewish Vocational Services of Los Angeles (JVSLA), a nonprofit dedicated to helping people overcome employment barriers, congratulated its third class of graduating students in the JVSLA ApartmentWorks Program on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

JVSLA graduates get one last pep talk before going on their first job interviews. (photo by Patricia Sanchez)
The class, which included individuals from across Los Angeles County, had little time between graduation and job interviews. JVSLA brings employers to the graduates by hosting a job fair immediately following the graduation ceremony.

The program offers technical training for participants and awards them a Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT). Students are taught exterior and interior repair, HVAC repair, electrical and plumbing skills and customer service skills.

Brenda Corona, program manager for JVSLA ApartmentWorks, said the program is unique in that it doesn’t just provide individuals with a CAMT credential. It’s an all-encompassing career development program that takes a hands-on approach to helping them find employment. 

She added that, although there have only been three graduating classes thus far, the program has progressed tremendously in a short amount of time, thanks to the students and employers involved.

“This class is very special,” Corona said. “These students are very caring individuals … and you can teach anyone a skill, but you can’t teach them how to care.”

Corona said one of the reasons ApartmentWorks is so successful is due to its partnership with employers, ensuring students are led through the employment process from start to finish.
“Many of these students have backgrounds in managing apartment complexes or other buildings,” Corona said. “They just need the extra training and skills to be more marketable.”

One major partner with ApartmentWorks is AvalonBay Communities, a company that oversees apartments across the state apartments throughout Los Angeles and Southern California.

John Smith, portfolio maintenance director for AvalonBay noted the company was asked to be a part of the initial brain storming session for the program and was impressed with its potential.

“We believed it was a good idea, and it was clear from the results of the initial pilot class that this is an amazing program that we wanted to continue to be a part of,” Smith said. “We’ve been very hands-on with the program.

Smith added that the company has locations at 5115 Wilshire Blvd. and will soon be adding a building on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

“Once our project in [West Hollywood] is completed, we will definitely look into employing JVSLA graduates in that location,” said Smith.

ApartmentWorks also focuses on teaching good leadership and communication skills, added Corona, to help give graduates the confidence to use their new training properly.
“We give them all the training they need, which is great,” Corona said. “But those skills mean nothing if they can’t get a job afterward.”

Donald Boney, a Westwood resident, was one of the 10 graduates on Tuesday. He said he has a background in property management, but the training he received through ApartmentWorks was helpful in teaching him other valuable services.

“The JVS program was very instrumental in bridging the gap on my property management skills to getting hands on experience,” Boney said. “I was very impressed with their approach. They taught me maintenance skills and boosted my confidence with running a property.”

During his time supervising a property, Boney said he felt like he was lacking in certain areas such as maintenance upkeep, but with JVSLA, he was able to learn the techniques necessary to provide those services to his future employers.

“It gives me lifelong skills, and it’s been a learning experience I’ll carry with me,” Boney said. “If you’re a person who seeks a leadership position or if you’re looking for opportunities that will advance your life, this is one step in the right direction.”

Boney said he and his classmates all share the sentiment that after completing the course, they are better suited to take on the responsibilities of apartment maintenance and have the self-assurance to exemplify their skills to employers.

JVSLA has locations throughout Los Angeles and offers a multitude of programs including JVSLA ApartmentWorks, BankWorks and HealthWorks. Through its contributors and partners, it is able to operate and offer classes, programs and other outreach to the community. For information, visit www.jvsla.org.

Here's a link to the article from the Beverly Press