It’s not every day that college students walk into the Oakland Career Center seeking healthcare training. Oakland natives Zeyead Gharib and Ahmed Gharib are exceptions to many rules, though. Their mother suffers from fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that causes widespread pain and musculoskeletal issues.
The Gharibs’ father passed away last year and they quickly realized they needed help caring for their mother. They contracted with an agency to provide in-home care. However, because of some cultural values, Mrs. Gharib was always uneasy having strangers in her home.
Zeyead and Ahmed got to know the home aides who visited their homes and observed their routines. “One day it occurred to me—why couldn’t I just learn how to provide this care myself?” Zeyead told us.
At the time, Zeyead was finishing his junior year at the University of Pittsburgh. Ahmed had just graduated and was still trying to land a full time job in law enforcement. The two teamed up and decided they should get their own certifications to be able to care for their mother in a way that made her comfortable.
They inquired with a supervisor at their agency, Loving Kindness Healthcare Systems, who referred them to OPDC’s JobLinks program for training.
One of JobLinks’ many services is certifying clients as Home Health Assistants—individuals trained to aid those no longer able to independently care for themselves. Home Health Assistants typically work in a patient’s home, but also find jobs in facilities where they work with multiple patients.
“We work with so many different clients every month, but this was unique,” said Rose West, one of the JobLinks team who worked with the brothers. “Typically, our clients are looking to advance themselves in healthcare careers.”
“These two young men really made an impression on us—neither of them are even pursuing healthcare jobs,” Janette Brown added. “They had a very special reason for coming to us. It’s not every day we see people at this young age with their educational background who are focused on caring for their mother as a top priority.”
“Everyone at JobLinks has been so friendly and eager to help us,” Ahmed said. “It’s funny to look back on all the years we lived in Oakland and didn’t realize this program was right here.”
The Gharibs are now both certified Home Health Aides and are providing the fulltime care their mother needs.
“We at JobLinks feel honored to have shared in their experience and wish the whole family the best,” Janette said.
To learn more about the many career services JobLinks offers, contact 412.621.3821, stop by the Oakland Career Center at 294 Semple Street, or visit us online at www.joblinks.opdc.org.