It’s with sadness that we report that the Center for Career Alternatives (CCA) has closed its doors. The CCA provided education, employment, training, and career development services — for free — to anyone who needed its help, from recent immigrants to ex-convicts.
Its mission was a particularly noble one because it provided resources to people that mainstream society often overlooks or discriminates against. CCA thought the best of people, and it gave them second chances.
Our relationship with CCA over the years has been both professional and personal. We reported on CCA when it went through its good times and when it went through its bad times. Though we tried to be unbiased, we secretly rooted for its success because we believed in the work it was doing.
Our layout editor, Han Bui, has actually benefited from CCA. Bui immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1994, when she was a young teen and didn’t know much English. Two years later, when she was in ninth grade, she became involved with the CCA in Everett. CCA sought out employment for her, placing her in the kitchen at Everett High School, where she prepared food for students who were taking summer classes. She was paid for eight hours of work, but she worked only four of those eight hours. She spent the other four hours with CCA instructors, learning how to read and write in English, as well as how to interview for jobs. She was involved with CCA for three years while she was in high school, later working for Everett Housing Authority.
Eventually, Bui earned an associate’s degree in fine arts in graphic design and another in technical arts in multimedia web design, both from Everett Community College. She is now an award-winning web designer and editor for Northwest Asian Weekly.
“It’s sad to see CCA closing down,” said Bui. “I feel that it’s a loss for the community and for kids like me, who once needed help. If it weren’t for CCA, I don’t think I would have been brave enough to go out there and find part-time jobs and summer jobs on my own during my high school years, because I knew very little English. CCA taught me to be independent and also a hard worker.”
It’s tough to imagine how many more people will slip through the cracks now that CCA no longer exists. Quoted in our front page story, Alaric Bien makes a really great point in saying that the mood of many people is that they adamantly don’t want to pay more taxes and they don’t vote. Yet, the same people will get upset when social services and nonprofits close down, not realizing the correlation.
Of course, the silver lining to CCA’s closure is that its programs are being continued by Sea Mar, a very large and very strong minority-owned organization.
We encourage everyone to take advantage of the great resources that are available out there and to also remember to give back. ♦