2009-08-28 / Community

Stimulus money to put 600 youth to work

By Michelle Knight knight@theacorn.com

FUTURE INVESTMENT—Alex Rivera of Telair International, right, a  Simi Valley-based  aerospace  manufacturer,  is  glad  to  have Anthony Gaber,18, of Simi Valley on board as a summer hire. Telair will help Gaber gain work experience while federal stimulus money pays  Gaber’s minimum-wage salary  through  the summer. The $850,000 program, run by the nonprofit Pathpoints in Simi Valley, seeks to put disadvantaged youth throughout Ventura County in jobs through Sept. 30. FUTURE INVESTMENT—Alex Rivera of Telair International, right, a Simi Valley-based aerospace manufacturer, is glad to have Anthony Gaber,18, of Simi Valley on board as a summer hire. Telair will help Gaber gain work experience while federal stimulus money pays Gaber’s minimum-wage salary through the summer. The $850,000 program, run by the nonprofit Pathpoints in Simi Valley, seeks to put disadvantaged youth throughout Ventura County in jobs through Sept. 30. Anthony Gaber thought he’d have to enter the military after high school to learn job skills.

But before graduating from Simi Valley’s Royal High School in June, the 18-year-old learned about a summer youth employment program offered through Moorpark College and PathPoint, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit that offers employment, residential and support services to more than 2,300 people a year. The services are offered to those with disabilities or disadvantages in five counties, including Ventura.

The program, funded by federal stimulus money, aims to give youth work experience and job skills while they earn money. The employers benefit from the extra hands and from their contribution to the youth’s development.

After Gaber attended a free job-readiness workshop at the college, he began working Aug. 3 at a Telair International warehouse in Simi Valley.

Gaber said he thought his first paid job would be more difficult than it is. He enjoys taking inventory for Telair and working in the stocking and receiving departments. He’s discovered that he likes working with his hands.

“Now that I went through this experience,” Gaber said, “I’ve been thinking about working in a warehouse.”

Alex Rivera, Telair human resources manager, said helping youths gain practical job skills is the socially responsible thing to do.

Telair, an aerospace manufacturer with offices across the country and around the world, employs 130 people at its only California site in Simi Valley.

Rivera said he’s hired five youths from the program so far and is open to hiring more.

“I really do believe we need to do more to prepare our youth to enter the work force,” said Rivera, who’s supported youth employment through other programs and county agencies for several years.

Gaber’s employment at Telair was made possible by an $805,000 grant PathPoint received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In all, PathPoint and its six partnering agencies, including Moorpark College and the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo, plan to train and have jobs for 260 disadvantaged youths ages 14 to 24 in Ventura County.

A nonprofit youth club in Oxnard that received a similar grant will serve youths in Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Marielle DeFazio, PathPoint’s director for the Simi Valley office, said both programs are expected to help 660 disadvantaged youths in Ventura County get jobs. The program runs through Sept. 30.

To qualify, the youth must be low-income and either deficient in basic skills or a juvenile offender.

Although PathPoint is the employer on record, the youths work for more than 75 companies around Ventura County in a vari

ety of positions, including maintenance, clerical, child care, retail, hotel and warehouse. For example, the young people work for the cities of Moorpark and Thousand Oaks, the Courtyard by Marriott in Simi Valley and Camarillo, and Target in

Moorpark and Newbury Park.

Yesterday, Telair International and Gaber, representing the employers and youth employees in the program, were expected to be honored for their participation.

For more information, call Kim Whitaker at PathPoint at (805) 520-8744, ext. 113.

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