The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, November 25, 1987 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-6 under “Another Voice“. The newspaper called this a “Silver Pen” article. It is rewritten here with the newspaper’s permission.
YES, the job presents myriad of challenges
By Arlou Mashburn
Special to The News
When invited by Duke Tully and Verne Peyser to “share thoughts on the problems of today,” my first thought was to interpret the word, problems, into the word, challenges . . . a technique I often use to put myself into a more positive attitude.
New challenges challenge me daily; especially in the Ojai Valley Youth Employment Service where I am the executive director, so I will address these issues.
The ever present challenge, and the No. 1 on YES’s list of concerns is: THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH QUALITY JOBS WITHIN THE OJAI VALLEY FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO APPLY FOR THEM. Because Ojai is family oriented, it has more youth among its citizenry than many communities, and because the valley’s growth is limited, there are fewer jobs. Isn’t that what is referred to as a “Catch 22”?
Impacting the above is YES’s second accelerating challenge: THERE IS INADEQUATE FUNDING TO CONTINUE YES’S METHOD OF OPERATION. A non-profit organization, run by volunteers, YES must create it own funding.
A common misconception I hear is that a “mysterious” source backs YES. That is not the case. YES has received a portion of its budget from the United Way of Ventura County, however, that allocation was trimmed due to the increased number of human services agencies applying for financial assistance from the United Way for 1988 . . . an annual appeal.
In the past when federal revenue sharing was available, the city, recognizing what a viable service YES was to its citizens, designated a portion of the monies allocated to it to YES. This source of revenue is no longer available.
Because YES is located in the Ojai Unified School District Building (formerly the Ojai Elementary School) at 414 E. Ojai Ave., many people assume it to be part of the school district. Again, this is not the situation. In fact, YES pays rent to the district for use of the office space plus the use of a copying machine.
Since job opportunities are scarce in the area, our young people gain less work experience than they might if the reverse were true. Ojai businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water in a period of economic stress which prevents them from hiring part-time help. And as we all know, the state is distributing less and less funding to educational programs, so the almost-non-existent career education department and vocational classes in our high school are affected.
One of the ways YES would like to compensate for this lack is to provide workshops emphasizing jobseeking skills, resume writing, job interview techniques, communication skills and other self-improvement classes.
Apprenticeship programs, with volunteers from the community sharing their expertise in exchange for assistance from the young person(s) is a goal YES is reaching for.
These dreams can only become realities if YES receives more financial assistance, moral support, job offerings and volunteers.
Current members of the board of directors include Bill Shouse, president; Jack McClenahan, secretary; and Alice Chesley, treasurer. Others are Bette Bluhm, Pat Gates, Janis Long Nicholas, Jenny Phelps and Kathy Rice-Leary. Allan Jacobs, Joe Matacia and Roy Rodriguez also served this year.
Assisting in the office (which is open from noon until 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays is Elizabeth “Betsy” Gates, formerly a job counselor with Ventura County.
YES was previously open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., but in an attempt to cut back operating expenses, shortened its hours. A telephone answering machine was installed to accommodate those needing to contact YES at other times. The number is 646-4397.
Open 12 months a year, including many holidays due to the availability of jobs and job seekers, the only dates of inoperation are New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
YES serves those 13- through 20-years-old. There is not charge for employee or employer for the placement, however, due to the immediate concern for funding to keep the doors open, registration fees are being considered.
Young job aspirants are encouraged to get on file at YES, regardless of the financial status of their families. Most of the employment opportunities are in the residential area.
In its 20th year, YES, despite the previously mentioned problems . . . oop! challenges . . . must be doing something right, as the saying goes. Only by saying “yes” to YES will Ojai continue to count among its assests the Ojai Valley Youth Employment Services.*
*Ojai Valley YES is one of eight YESes in Ventura County, six of which are operated independent of city assistance. This is the only county in the United States whose major towns/cities provide this service free of government help.