- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A building in which streetcars were once housed will become a facility to help get Kanawha Valley residents employed.

Workers have been renovating the interior and exterior of Goodwill Industries of the Kanawha Valley building on Virginia Street West in Charleston, and when the project wraps up in March, Goodwill will have turned the building into its new “Prosperity Center” - a modern facility complete with a public computer lab, classrooms for college credit classes, interview space and a “professional clothes closet,” among other amenities.

“We’re prepared to help people from all walks of life and all places in their life,” said Kathy McKinley, Goodwill of the Kanawha Valley’s director of community relations.

Goodwill is mostly self-funding the Prosperity Center, a roughly $1 million project, through profit from its stores as well as through donations. McKinley said Goodwill also got a grant from UPS for the computer lab.

The layout of the Prosperity Center is designed to make it a one-stop shop for job training.

Users will be able to take classes through community colleges for credit and other job training courses will be available. The computer lab will allow potential applicants to expand their education and look for employment opportunities, while businesses will be able to conduct employment interviews in the dedicated space in the building.

But what about those who need a hand with new professional clothes?

The Prosperity Center has that covered, too.

McKinley said the “professional clothes closet” will consist of business wear sourced differently from the general donations Goodwill receives.

“It’s much bigger than just a resume-building opportunity,” she said of the center.

Rails from its original incarnation as a streetcar facility can still be seen embedded in the floor of the building. It was later a bus garage and was eventually acquired by Goodwill.

Construction will restore some of its original aspects, such as the original brick walls and circular windows in the gable of the building. Additional windows will be added at street level to allow in more light.

After the building is finished in March, McKinley said the first job-oriented event will be in April for veterans looking for work.

Future events will be announced, all with the goal of not only helping people find work, but find something they enjoy.

“Work is about so much more than just they paycheck,” McKinley said. “It’s about being part of the community and being part of something.”

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Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, https://www.charlestondailymail.com

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