By Najah Morgan
The Oak Hill Collaborative, which is about five minutes from Youngstown State University’s campus, offers many learning, business and service opportunities for students.
The OHC, a nonprofit organization, is located at 507 Oak Hill Ave. and was founded by former Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Pat Kerrigan in 2013.
Now executive director, Kerrigan said the collaborative is a neighborhood revitalization organization that provides much more than cleaning up buildings and taking care of abandoned properties.
“We also have a community organization center here where different groups meet and have block watches, [such as] Friends of the Mahoning River and all sorts of community-minded groups, and we let them use the place for free for meetings,” Kerrigan said.
Friends of the Mahoning River, a nonprofit organization that advocates to improve the quality of the Mahoning River, receives support and assistance from the OHC.
Patricia Dunbar, president of the Friends of the Mahoning River, said the collaborative provides her organization with gathering space for its monthly board meetings.
“We definitely benefit from the OHC because we are a nonprofit organization and we are volunteers, so we don’t have a lot of money,” Dunbar said. “Here we have free parking, and the OHC is very accommodating if we need to have other meeting times.”
The OHC also hosts classes that are open to the public, teaching skills like bookkeeping and how to work electronics.
According to Kerrigan, YSU students are welcome to attend any of the OHC events.
“Students can come and see small businesses and how they work. They could also learn how to work for a nonprofit organization,” Kerrigan said. “We get a lot of people who come down that are good with computers and help teach things.”
He said volunteer work on a resume looks good to potential employers.
Kerrigan said the collaborative also has a small business incubator for new businesses starting out that may need assistance, and it will mentor anyone with questions related to starting a business.
Steve Kristan has volunteered as a consultant for the OHC for the past year and a half and said Kerrigan has a vision for the collaborative to bring technology to the community.
“We have to get people up to speed with using the technology because once they start to use it more that will encourage the internet providers to invest more in the area,” Kristan said.
He said the collaborative is trying to bridge the digital divide.
For additional information visit www.oakhillcollaborative.org.