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OXNARD : Jobs Program Helps Low-Income Youths

Instead of hanging out with friends, 60 youths from Oxnard are spending this summer painting buildings, picking up trash and mopping floors at city-owned facilities.

Participants in the city’s Summer Youth Program are paid minimum wage to perform the work, and put in eight hours a day, said program spokesman Michael Goldowitz.

Most of the youths come from low-income families, and nearly all of them have police records, said Carlos Garza, the project’s coordinator. By working through the summer, the program helps keep them off the streets, Garza said.

Hopefully, it will also help change some of the teen-agers’ attitudes about life, he said.

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“The main thing I’m hoping is that kids realize that by asking for help they can get help,” Garza said. “Hopefully they understand they can change for the better.”

Frank Flores, 17, was one of eight project workers at Durley Park on Friday. After the workers spend the morning cleaning and picking up trash, they help supervise game rooms at the city’s parks. Flores was helping supervise about a dozen chattering kids playing games.

He likes the Summer Youth Program job much better than his old job at McDonald’s, where he flipped burgers and took orders, Flores said.

“At this place you work and have fun at the same time,” he said.

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Anna Martinez had never held down a job before she signed up for the summer jobs program. The 17-year-old Oxnard High student said she’s glad she did it.

“It gives us an opportunity to find out what it’s like to have a job,” she said. “It’s made me think more about what I want to do in my future.”

The jobs program is federally funded and will continue through the end of August, officials said.


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