By Anthony Victoria
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson helped create the Job Corps to try to help young people find vocational skills that would help them find good technical employment.
On August 20, the Inland Empire Job Corps held a reception and tour commemorating their organization’s 50th year at the San Bernardino campus, located at 3173 Kerry St.
The college-like, 17.5-acre site was opened 1978 and houses over 300 students ages 16-12, who receive training in carpentry, culinary arts, electrical, medical administrative assistant, office administration, ornamental landscaping, painting, plumbing and tile setting.The campus has dormitories, a library, computer labs, a swimming pool and a wellness center for basic medical needs. It provides free educational and vocational training for income-eligible young people.
In addition, according to Judi Penman, president and CEO of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, the Job Corps Center provides valuable community services in landscaping and building trades services to some area non-profits. San Bernardino County superintendent of schools Ted Alejandre reiterated Penman’s statement by explaining the services amount to approximately $135,000 worth of services in the recent year.
Dignitaries from around the San Bernardino County area were present to join in the commemoration, with several of them presenting resolutions.
San Bernardino County Josie Gonzalez said that the Inland Empire Job Corps has provided comprehensive service to the entire county.
“If we really want to put our long term perspective hat
on, this is a regional benefit,” she said. “It includes the people transitioning from other counties that come to San Bernardino. It’s my hope that it (resolution) will commemorate and identify many more years of success that will inspire our youth.”
On Friday August 22, the Inland Empire Job Corps held a commencement ceremony for students that completed certification and obtained their high school diploma. Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod was this year’s key-note speaker. She spoke of the significance of accomplishing the first step towards a good future.
“For many of you, you are opening the door for opportunities for better jobs, further education, and different aspirations,” she said. “Keep your dreams alive.”
Ray Mondragon, 19, who is training to be a tile-finisher, said the Job Corps has demonstrated to him that hard work does pay off.
“I’ve learned so much here,” he said. “Coming from a background of never thinking I could do anything, I figured out that I’m actually a pretty hard worker. Eventually, I want to join the union and continue to be a hard worker.”