The tiny space nestled in the Westminster Town Mall had sat unused for about 20 years. Now the 650-square-foot area intended to be storage space is serving as a training center for clients of Change, Inc., a Westminster based nonprofit that provides services to people with developmental disabilities
"It's serendipity," Change job developer Jim Mayola said. "It's been wonderful."
Change, Inc., has been using the space since June, training its clients on job skills, such as typing, writing resumes, and practicing interviews.
The training center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.
In its first 90 days at its new location, Mayola said six Change clients have found employment.
The jobs are either part-time niche jobs or volunteer work. Jobs landed by Change clients include a porter at a local Gold's Gym, food service work at McDaniel College, and a position at New Spider Web embroidering in Westminster.
"Everything is about, 'What can we do?' " Mayola said of finding his clients a job.
Change Director of Development Teresa Perrera said the space at the mall "fell into the lap" of the nonprofit.
After using a kiosk at the mall to advertise Change programs and developing relationships with mall management, Perrera said she asked if any space was available.
"The bottom line is we are so grateful," Perrera said. "It fell into our lap because it all started with a kiosk."
Perrera added that the suggestion to use kiosk space at the mall came from Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin.
McMullin said he hopes that Change's new space helps get the message out on programs offered through the organization.
Clients already work with the Chamber, handling janitorial duties at the Main Street office and mailing out the Chamber's monthly newsletter.
"They do a great job," McMullin said of Change. "They're pleasant, professional and the price is right."
Change has signed a one-year lease for the space and Executive Director Rick Glaser said the organization sees the opportunity as a worthwhile experiment and investment.
"We're hoping it's successful and if it is, we'll continue the lease," he said.
While Change has always provided job training for its clients, this is the first time change is offering small, targeted classes, Glaser said.
Previously, Change clients all trained at the vocational center, which is the Robert Moton Center on South Center Street.
Mayola said he's sure the program will evolve, although he's not sure it will grow to accommodate more than six clients at a time based on space.
Although the training program is new, Mayola said the location at the mall allows Change to be more accessible and visible to the business community.
"We're always looking to integrate into the community," Mayola said.
There are 67 clients who can use the new training facility, but overall there are about 200 people enrolled in Change programs, according to Perrera.