GRAPEVINE — For more than eight years, the Grapevine Community Outreach Center has provided residents around Mustang Drive with opportunities for personal growth and self-realization through education, recreation and relationships.And this year, the center is taking its mission of helping the community to a new level.On Saturday, the center will host its first Community Fiesta and Job Fair in Grapevine.The goal of the organizers is to connect local residents and employers and provide hundreds of job opportunities.The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center, located at 3010 Mustang Drive.It will feature family carnival activities with bounces houses, a Grapevine Fire Department truck, sports activities and community services, including eye exams and hair cutting by local businesses.Representatives from local companies are hiring, including Great Wolf Lodge, Gaylord Texan Resort, Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, Wal-Mart, Burlington Coat Factory, Red Robin, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Krispy Kreme, 7-Eleven, Forever21 and Gap.Colby Mowery, community outreach coordinator, said Monday that more than 20 companies have signed up to offer more than 300 jobs, including those from the hospitality, restaurant and retail industries.“We can be a great platform to put people needing jobs and employers together,” Mowery said. “We are very excited about that.”Mowery said several companies are sponsoring the job fair, “so this entire event is costing the city exactly zero in terms of programming.”Established in 2006, the Grapevine Community Outreach Center promotes communication and cooperation between the residents of Grapevine and law enforcement through recreational, educational, social and cultural enrichment programs for local residents. Adult education programs offered by the center include English as a second language (ESL), general education development (GED) and computer literacy classes. For children, the center offers tutoring, mentoring and after-school programs. “We have partnered with the city of Grapevine, the Grapevine Colleyville school district and others to provide a safe place that has become a focal point for fostering community solidarity and establishing relationships that span socioeconomic class, race and ethnicity,” Mowery said.At a recent City Council meeting, Police Chief Eddie Salame lauded the program, which operates under the police department’s umbrella, saying that the additional presence of police officers fosters relationships in the neighborhood. He said the program works so well, in fact, that the number of area crimes reported has increased, which is due in part to people feeling more comfortable coming to the police for help.Police Lt. Barry Bowling agreed, saying, “The outreach center is trying to be a broker between the community that needs help and the agencies that provide help.”One of the more noteworthy areas of the Community Outreach Center, Mowery said, is the computer lab. Through the donation of several computers by the school district, the lab is set up to assist with student tutorials and continuing education training.Another popular offering is the VAST (Valuable After-School Time) after-school programVAST offers children from first through sixth grade a safe, structured-environment, homework help, a healthy snack, recreational activity and cultural enrichment. According to center staff, VAST is held during the most dangerous time of the day for kids — the after-school hours.Rafael Dominguez said the Community Outreach Center, including its VAST program, has made a huge difference in his family’s life.“I love the center,” Dominguez said.
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367