Northeast Times

40 years of building a future

  • Teaching the trade: Orleans Technical Institute students work on a model home located on the school’s Red Lion Road campus. The vocational school is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Teaching the trade: Orleans Technical Institute students work on a model home located on the school’s Red Lion Road campus. The vocational school is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

  • Teaching the trade: Orleans Technical Institute students work on a model home located on the school’s Red Lion Road campus. The vocational school is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Ask Debbie Bello, Or­leans Tech­nic­al In­sti­tute’s ad­mis­sions dir­ect­or, for her fond­est memory of her 15 years at the school and she re­calls cry­ing at a gradu­ation.

One of the grads was an im­mig­rant from East­ern Europe who had had a tough time even get­ting in. He eas­ily did well on the math sec­tion of the Red Li­on Road school’s ad­mis­sion test, but he didn’t do well on the Eng­lish.

Bello said she en­cour­aged him to keep try­ing. “It took him a while to pass,” she said. But he did and got in­to the school’s elec­tric­al train­ing pro­gram. At his gradu­ation ce­re­mony, he came up to her and told her she was the only per­son who had be­lieved in him.

“I was cry­ing; he was cry­ing,” Bello said dur­ing an Aug. 20 in­ter­view.

The school got him star­ted in a ca­reer, made a dif­fer­ence in his life.

That’s pretty much the point of Or­leans, which is cel­eb­rat­ing its 40th an­niversary this year: Provid­ing ca­reer train­ing and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in people’s lives.

The vo­ca­tion­al school teaches people skills to get out in­to the work­force, earn good liv­ings and sup­port their fam­il­ies, said Jay Spect­or, the pres­id­ent and chief ex­ec­ut­ive of­ficer of JEVS Hu­man Ser­vices, Or­leans’ par­ent com­pany.

Ori­gin­ally a Jew­ish so­cial ser­vice agency, Spect­or said, JEVS star­ted in 1941 to help im­mig­rants dis­placed dur­ing World War II and to aid re­turn­ing Jew­ish vet­er­ans. It evolved over the years, provid­ing more and more pro­grams to an ever-widen­ing and di­verse pop­u­la­tion, Spect­or said dur­ing an Aug. 22 phone in­ter­view.

Spect­or said JEVS has greatly ex­pan­ded its pro­grams over the years, help­ing vari­ous groups of refugees and people with dis­ab­il­it­ies.

“We’ve de­veloped an ex­pert­ise,” he said, “in help­ing people be­come in­de­pend­ent.”

In 1974, JEVS star­ted small skills train­ing cen­ters on Castor and Bustleton av­en­ues that even­tu­ally led to a school on Rhawn street in 1979 and the new Red Li­on Road cam­pus east of the Boulevard in 2007.

There’s noth­ing small at all at Or­leans any­more. Even the school’s hall­ways are big. Since open­ing that build­ing in 2007, Or­leans Tech has trained more than 4,400 stu­dents there.

“What makes Or­leans Tech such a strong edu­ca­tion­al in­sti­tu­tion is our abil­ity to meet the train­ing and em­ploy­ment needs right here in our re­gion,” Spect­or said. “When the em­ploy­ment de­mand for court re­port­ers skyrock­eted, we were right there with the best pos­sible pro­gram to help stu­dents lever­age that op­por­tun­ity. We look for­ward to do­ing the same for the next forty years and bey­ond — identi­fy­ing em­ploy­ment train­ing needs and filling them.”

Ac­cord­ing to stat­ist­ics provided by the school, trade ca­reers are grow­ing.

Em­ploy­ment in heat­ing, air con­di­tion­ing and re­fri­ger­a­tion is ex­pec­ted to grow 34 per­cent by 2020. Gen­er­al main­ten­ance and re­pair work will in­crease 11 per­cent. Car­pentry jobs will go up 20 per­cent. Po­s­i­tions in plumb­ing, pipefit­ting and steam­fit­ting could go up 26 per­cent. The need for elec­tri­cians is ex­pec­ted to grow 23 per­cent.

And Or­leans’ staff and ad­min­is­trat­ors want every­body to see the school and all it has to of­fer dur­ing an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sat­urday, Sept. 6, at 2770 Red Li­on Road.

The event will fea­ture do-it-your­self work­shops on home auto­ma­tion, plumb­ing, sol­der­ing, pro­gram­mable ther­mo­stats, tiling, switches and in­stalling fuses. 

Em­ploy­ers and oth­er vendors will of­fer giveaways and prizes. There will be vari­ous en­ter­tain­ments, and the school will provide hot dogs, chips, pret­zels and drinks. There will be free health screen­ings. Vets will be on hand to dis­cuss vet­er­ans be­ne­fits. Ad­mis­sions and fin­an­cial aid rep­res­ent­at­ives will help people in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing. Em­ploy­ment spe­cial­ists will help with re­sumes and job searches. 

Dur­ing tours of the school, at­tendees will see equip­ment demos and get a chance to try out a court re­port­ing steno ma­chine. ••

Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

• Or­leans Tech star­ted in 1974 by of­fer­ing cler­ic­al skills train­ing to home­makers re­turn­ing to the work­force.

• More trade pro­grams were ad­ded, and, by 1979, the school’s growth ne­ces­sit­ated a move to the A.P. Or­leans Vo­ca­tion­al Cen­ter on Rhawn Street. Over the years, some people con­fused the name of the school with the name of the Or­leans Theat­er. “We used to get calls from people look­ing for the sunglasses they left be­hind,” said Debbie Bello, the school’s ad­mis­sions dir­ect­or.

• In 1986, Or­leans opened a Cen­ter City cam­pus.

• More and more train­ing pro­grams were offered, and the school moved to an 88,000-square-foot train­ing fa­cil­ity on Red Li­on Road.

• In 2014, the school cel­eb­rates its 40th an­niversary.

• More than 20 Or­leans grads have re­turned to be­come in­struct­ors at the school.

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus