Earlier this month, on one of her weekly visits to Burbank’s
WorkForce Connection, Anne Maria Tafoya was perplexed when she walked
into the office.
“I just walked in there like any other day and everyone was
staring at me,” Tafoya said. “I thought, ‘Did I do something wrong?’
But the glances were in admiration for the Echo Park resident, who
was the 10,000th client to visit the center since it opened in
December 2001. Staff members, including WorkForce administrator
Yvette Ulloa, congratulated Tafoya and awarded her with balloons,
gift certificates and other small gifts.
The center’s office, inside the City Hall Annex at 301 E. Olive
Ave., serves those seeking work by offering free access to five
computers, phones, a fax machine and other resources. More than 300
local businesses post jobs at the center.
Ulloa said the center, which is funded by federal grants from
Burbank’s Economic Development Department and the Verdugo Job Center
in Glendale, averaged about 100 clients per month when it opened.
That figure jumped to 900 after one year.
According to Ulloa, more than 50% of those who fill out a survey
say they have found employment through the center.
“A lot of people who have been looking for work for a long time
are now finding jobs,” she said.
For the center to reach its 10,000-client milestone in less than
two years is a reflection of a slumping economy, Ulloa said.
Tafoya, who was laid off last year, is searching for a job in
public relations or the media. She started visiting the center a few
months ago, and now stops by about four to five times a month.
“I’ve been to other work-force studios around town and wasn’t
impressed,” she said. “But [WorkForce Connection] was clean, it had a
lot of computers and the employees were very helpful.”