Residents of the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects last week honored 60 youths who worked part-time jobs this summer through the citywide federal Youth Employment Program with a luncheon ceremony.
"We're saying to the young men and women who participated, 'Thank you for your hard work,' " said Roberto Murillo, coordinator for the Ramona Gardens Resident Advisory Council, which also planned to treat the teen-agers to Magic Mountain.
Although the jobs program has been in place for many years, this is the first time residents decided to hold the thank-you ceremony, Murillo said.
The 14- to 21-year-olds painted murals, helped in offices, cleaned sewers, delivered food, weeded senior citizens' gardens, worked in day care, re-sodded lawns and supervised youth recreation programs. They worked from 20 to 25 hours a week and were paid about $5.47 an hour.
"It was great. You earn your own money," said Juan Sarabia, 14, whose first job was as a member of a 12-person crew that painted murals and did gardening for the Resident Advisory Council. New murals have gone up on buildings at Murchison Street and Lancaster Avenue, and at Chelsea Street and Zonal Avenue.
"We cleaned yards and dirty places where people walk through by some sewers. It's kind of easy stuff, but dirty though," he said.
Rocio Olivo, 18, said the program provided another chance to hold a clerical job with the Resident Advisory Council, and, she hopes, will better her chances of landing a part-time job while attending East Los Angeles Skills Center this fall.
Other youths held jobs with the East Los Angeles Youth Activity Foundation, the Community Service Center at Ramona Gardens, the Housing Development Maintenance Department and Los Angeles Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Some also enrolled in academic enrichment programs, which included classes to prepare for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, a college entrance exam.
"We try to give a well-rounded experience," Murillo said. "Each agency has its own needs that they fulfill for the community. The advisory council tried to touch on the environment, academic enrichment, community involvement and the spirituality that comes from that."
Olivo, who was to give a motivational speech to the other youths at the Friday awards ceremony, said she learned to work with computers this summer, an experience she knows will help her later.
"When you want to go out and look for a job, you know a little bit," she said. "They train you."