When Dan O’Donnell volunteers for Taller San Jose, he isn’t just helping individuals. He’s helping entire families, possibly for generations to come.
O’Donnell, a quality systems manager for Spectrum Brands Hardware & Home Improvement Group (HHI), conducts mock interviews with Taller San Jose students, and answers questions they have about the job search and interviewing process.
Taller San Jose targets individuals between the ages of 18 and 28 who are unemployed, undereducated and unskilled. Many have been involved in gang or criminal activity. Some are pregnant or already parents. Taller San Jose empowers them to move out of poverty by providing job training and the life skills necessary to support themselves and their families.
In Spanish, taller means workshop and San Jose is Spanish for St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers. Taller San Jose was founded in 1995 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.
Headquartered in Santa Ana, Taller San Jose has helped more than 4500 young adults finish their education and develop marketable skills. 70% of these students remain employed one year after graduation.
O’Donnell started volunteering for Taller San Jose in 2008 when a co-worker at HHI asked him to interview candidates as a mock employer. Later, O’Donnell was recommended to be the HHI representative supporting Taller San Jose.
“I was honored to be chosen and joyfully accepted,” said O’Donnell. “I came to realize that Taller San Jose positively impacts not only the students, but also the students’ families, whether it be their parents, their spouse and/or their children.”
O’Donnell arranges for HHI’s sponsorship of a table at Taller San Jose’s annual Light up a Life gala, during which the graduates share their experiences from the training program and their success after graduation. The ceremony is especially gratifying for O'Donnell.
“There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see a once confused and misguided boy, standing at a podium in a suit and tie as a confident gentleman, sharing his story with hundreds of people at Taller San Jose’s Light up a Life event,” said O’Donnell, “ and seeing the pride and tears of joy in the eyes of his family who are watching him.”