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EAST LOS ANGELES : Tortilleria, Bakery Offer Jobs for Youths

October 04, 1992|MARY ANNE PEREZ

Seeking to train workers, the Dolores Mission will soon go into the food business with a tortilleria at Grand Central Market and a Lithuanian bakery just around the corner from the church.

The church, near the Aliso-Pico housing project, is expanding its Jobs for a Future training program by running the two businesses.

Fresh tortillas made by Jobs for a Future workers will be coming off the stoves of Homeboy Tortillas when Downtown's Grand Central Market celebrates its 75th anniversary Monday. Market manager John Shegerian offered the space rent-free to the jobs program after the April-May riots.

"We had a tortilleria where we were left with a bunch of tortilla equipment and we were in post-riot L.A.," said Shegerian, who sits on the Jobs for a Future board of directors. "We've given young people (from the program) jobs here in the market and placed youngsters with other employers. We're very, very excited about this."

Four employees, all from the neighborhood around the church, will run the facility, Shegerian said. Homeboy Tortillas's name came from Father Gregory J. Boyle, who had worked extensively with gangs before he left the Dolores Mission this summer on a one-year retreat.

The bakery, purchased with an anonymous donation, will be ready to begin operations in the next few months. Workers will be trained to bake and sell rye bread, said Sandy Perluss-Lejeune, assistant director of the jobs program and manager of the tortilleria.

The jobs program was founded in 1990 when Boyle and women from the church's Comite Pro Paz (Committee for Peace) marched to factories near the church, knocked on doors and asked them to hire area youths. No one offered jobs that day, but the women continued their search and have since found jobs for 270 youths, Perluss-Lejeune said.

Shegerian said he will be negotiating with supermarkets to sell the tortillas. The tortilleria employees also plan to market and sell T-shirts, hats and other clothing designed by fashion designer Michael Sykes under the label Homeboy Industries.

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