VENTURA : Jobless Collect Training; Leave Clean Beaches

Fillmore resident Jesus Garcia carefully separated the plastic bags and pieces of broken glass from the pile of wood he had raked from Emma Wood State Beach near Ventura.

He then gathered the wood debris and took it to a nearby trash container, which was later transported to a recycling center.

Garcia, 59, is one of about 15 people who have been cleaning Ventura County beaches for the Job Training Partnership Council, a nonprofit organization based in Oxnard.

The council helps jobless people gain training and skills so they can re-enter the work force.

The group received a $2-million federal grant to assist with the repair and cleanup of debris from last winter's floods.

About 370 people have worked for the council in flood-damaged areas since the spring, said spokesman Tim Streeper. The beach cleanups should be completed before Dec. 31, Streeper said.

"They have nearly cleaned every beach in the county," Streeper said, adding that the workers for the next few weeks will revisit McGrath State Beach and Ventura State Beach to make sure all flood debris has been removed.

For Garcia, who had been unemployed for two years, the work seems like a great opportunity.

"I have really enjoyed working in the outdoors," Garcia said, adding that he needs the $8 an hour he earns to support himself and his wife. "I feel really good when I see a clean beach, free of trash and debris."

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