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Stimulus funds on the job
The activities program at Marysville Care Center has Christine Dunn, 19, working at a far quicker pace than she ever would have imagined before she started her summer job five weeks ago.
Dunn, a sophomore at Yuba College, says she is grateful finally to get a chance to work.
She was hired at the nursing home via Yuba County One Stop, with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"This is my first real job," Dunn says. "I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten a job without this (program) because I have no experience."
The $1.2 billion program approved by Congress in February provides short-term work training and employment for disadvantaged 14- to 24-year-olds.
Yuba County's share was $465,000 — enough to pay up to 200 young employees a minimum wage salary for the summer, and transportation vouchers for those who need it.
A chance to get help for the summer — at no cost to the employer — attracted a wide variety of participants, according to Sheila Moore, a Yuba County One Stop training and employment counselor.
Among them are retail stores and restaurants, Beale Air Force Base supervisors, the Marysville Business Improvement District and Gold Sox baseball. Mike Shields, owner of Golden State Automotive Services in Yuba City, said the funding also allows business owners to act as mentors.
His own young hire is working out well so far, he said.
The assistant, who helps make car repairs and performs maintenance procedures like tuneups and oil changes, has "shown an aptitude," said Shields. "He's motivated. He asks a lot of good questions."
Shields, 50, said he sympathizes with the predicament of not being able to get work because of a lack of prior work experience.
"I was there myself at one time," he said. "There was nobody there really to help me."
So he joined the military.
"But that's not for everyone," the mechanic said.
The young employees who attended high school last year began their summer jobs under the Recovery Act program around June 15. Those who are older, like Dunn, began several weeks earlier.
The Olivehurst resident and graduate of Lindhurst High School intends to pursue a career in nursing.
Until recently, she worried that her own lack of work experience would keep her from being able to earn money to continue her studies.
"I've tried to get a job every summer since I was 16," she said. "No one would hire me."
But proving herself to be a capable worker at Marysville Care Center, she said, will likely put her in good stead for the future.
"Once you show you're good at one job," she said, "it'll be easier to get another job."
Shields said that if the economy picks up in the next couple months, he may just consider hiring his new assistant permanently.
He said he would also like to see any potential young employee he hires attend auto mechanics classes at Yuba College.
"I would find a way to work with him and his schedule," he said. "This is really what the program is all about."
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Nancy Pasternack at 749-4712 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.