Bringing Hope Back to West Oakland

11 Jun

Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement (PJC) is a non-profit organization here in West Oakland. It was founded in 1995, and was once a former convent. It now serves as a center that is open to the needs of the community through education, culture, and development. It’s purpose is to enhance the well-being of the community, promoting mobility and participation in the re-development of West Oakland. As PJC has stated before, “It aims to build the community by building the individual.” And as Dr. Burns has said, PJC strives to “bring hope back to West Oakland.”


PJC’s mission is three-fold:

1. To promote the individual self-esteem of citizens in the community through education, skill training and cultural programs, thus supporting healthy families and economic self-sufficiency.

2. To promote the on-going renewal of community spirit among West Oakland residents.

3. To organize and promote community activities that facilitate economic and community development in West Oakland.


In its hope to accomplish all of the above, PJC is in the process of establishing a Family Resource Center. This is where I come in! I have been working closely with Dr. Burns, the Executive Director, in my conduction of research and planning for the Family Resource Center. Given that I have had two Micah predecessors, I am now taking on the detailing and documentation of core and comprehensive services to be offered by PJC. In addition to determining details such as content, length, and place of programs, I am also working on the development of a volunteer program for PJC.


Thankfully, Saint Mary’s students from Professor Ahnen’s class conducted a really thorough survey in which they asked residents of West Oakland what they’d like to see PJC offer. In analyzing their responses, we are being intentional with the potential programs we’d like to put in place. Therefore, I am intently researching on ESL programs, offering yoga, career counseling, and more.


For the first time ever, I am doing work that requires me to be behind a desk and computer. I have always been used to being involved in the action part of non profit, so being on the administrative/research side of it all has been really challenging. I have to consistently work to not distract myself, as well as find new and creative approaches to the work that I am doing. It is very much self directed work, with the support and supervision of Dr. Burns. Therefore, at times it can be hard to figure out what to do. Yet, through this all I have learned so much. For, PJC is the true definition of an organization that acts with the community in mind. They do not provide programs just to provide them. Rather, they provide programs that the community requests. Their approach has taught me the foundations of non profit work, and what it actually looks like to take theory, outline it, plan it, and implement it. For, like I mentioned before, my comfort and experience is in taking part of what has already been implemented, never the planning. Therefore, I could not be more thankful for these experiences, for I am gaining a well rounded look into the non profit world.


I hope I continue to learn details, processes, and more regarding this work. Given how I have already been learning this, I can only imagine with 6.5 weeks will deliver! I also hope that by continuing to attend PJC programs, like the Parent Cafe and Healing Art classes, the value of my work will continue to reveal itself. I am so excited for the children to start coming through PJC once school ends as well 🙂

For PJC, I really hope to deliver detailed outlines and plans for programs within the Family Resource Center. Specifically, I really hope to break some ground in the planning on an ESL program, Yoga classes, job training, and a volunteer program. I would love to make strides in my planning so that they can hit the ground running with these programs once the Family Resource Center is in place. I know these next weeks will fly past me, and having these set will be overwhelming, but I will do as much as I can. For, I hope to continue my relationship with PJC beyond the Micah Fellowship. They truly care about West Oakland, and they believe in West Oakland and I feel lucky to be here. I want to see the PJC Family Resource Center succeed, and I hope to play a small role in that.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 11, 2014 in 2014 Ariana Alvarez


One response to “Bringing Hope Back to West Oakland

  1. Carrie Davis

    June 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Thank you, Ariana, for all your time and effort on behalf of this important organization! You mention that this is a different type of service work than you have done previously, and I am impressed that you are challenging yourself in this way. Your dedication to continuously serving others is inspiring!


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