Nonprofit pursues Porcupine Drive job training facility

An Anchorage nonprofit plans on spending about $1 million transforming a vacant building on Porcupine Drive into a job training facility for former inmates and recovering addicts.

Darryl Waters pitched the Alaska WorkSource model at a Mountain View Community Council meeting Monday; distributing floor plans and bullet-point handouts detailing the nonprofit’s work. With the Council’s support, he said he hoped to lease a vacant, city-owned building in the industrial west corner of Mountain View.

There, Waters said Alaska WorkSource would train people in culinary arts, construction and computer skills. People who participate in WorkSource’s construction program are paid for their work while in training, Waters said.

He told Council members it was about giving people hope, a valuable skill and the ability to help themselves.

For many WorkSource clients, he said, “No one’s ever come along and said, ‘You know, you can actually get out of this. There’s actually a path out of this, but you have to act right, and you have to think right, and you have to believe. You have to have hope. You’ve got to pick yourself up.'”

Waters said a commitment to sobriety was central to the program’s success; “You can’t come show up drunk and then ask for your skill saw.” But he said Alaska WorkSource also offers counseling services through a partnership with a substance abuse recovery center owned by his wife. Other collaborators include the Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Native Justice Center, the Reentry Coalition, RurAL CAP and Catholic Social Services, according to handouts distributed to the Council Monday.

The nonprofit is currently located in South Anchorage. Waters said it had submitted a letter to the municipality expressing its interest in the Porcupine property, which belongs to the Heritage Land Bank. According to the municipality, HLB acquired the land from the State of Alaska in 2011 with the intention of holding it for city use or a potential long-term lease.

Nobody at Monday’s MVCC meeting voiced any objections to Waters’ proposal.

“What we want to do here in this place is change the face of reentry in the city,” he said.

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