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For Teens : Mobil's Teen 'Green Team' Cleans Up

July 21, 1994|MARY GUTHRIE

Taking a break from cutting and hauling brush, a group of Torrance teen-agers this week showed off their blisters and complained about the hard work that occupies their time. From 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Five days a week.

They are members of a new program, sponsored by the city and paid for by a $50,000 grant from Mobil Oil Corp. The "Green Team," as the group is called, paints, weeds and cleans up public property under the supervision of city workers.

Five of the 17 youngsters have spent their first week hacking their way along a few hundred yards of railroad track that parallels Madrid Avenue.

In sweltering heat, they have dragged brush through areas that burned in recent months, stirring up ashy dust as they work.

They complain that the $4.26 an hour they earn isn't enough for the difficult work. But in the same breath they say if it weren't for the program, they'd still be looking for jobs. And, they say, their friends envy them for having work.

Kim Berly, 17, said the outdoor work makes having a social life almost impossible.

"You just want to go home and sleep the entire night," Berly said.

For most of them, it's the first time they have had a full-time job. Several of them had been baby-sitters or done odd jobs. Michael Sun,16, worked in fast food for a while. He said that type of work was easier, but jobs are hard to find.

They all look forward to reaping the fruits of their labor--their first paycheck.

Victor Mackey, 15, said he'll buy a lot of beef jerky with his money.

Zack Ward,16, said most of his check will go toward paying car insurance.

*

For the group on Madrid Avenue, being so close to the railroad tracks has provided some diversion from the drudgery of work. On Monday, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus rolled past, giving the workers a chance to see a few animals on the train cars.

The Madrid Avenue workers wistfully described other Green Teams planting flowers in a park near the beach, relating that their group is always the dirtiest when they go back to the city yard.

The eight-week program marks the first time Mobil has sponsored a Green Team in California, although similar grants in New Jersey and Texas have mixed work programs and academics.

If the program works in Torrance the company will look at adding funding for a program next year that includes some academic work, said company spokesman Barry Engelberg.

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