Center serves Maryvales Latinos
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 23, 2006

Non-profit helps violence victims, gives jobs advice

Betty Reid

When many Latinos started moving to the Maryvale in the 1970s, they needed help finding jobs and programs to keep their kids busy.

With little education and no work experience, some didn't know where to turn. That's when Chicanos Por La Causa came into the picture, creating the Westside Training Center in 1976.

The complex, which is now known as the Workforce Development Center, began serving 300 people. Since then, the center has grown to serve 70,000.
Latinos walk through the doors seeking job training, summer work for their children, classes to get a high school diploma or programs to battle domestic violence or substance abuse.

With 15 employees, the center has touched the lives of many people from young children to adults.

Alicia Valdez is one of them. She had just dropped out of Carl Hayden High in 2002 when she walked into the center.

Workers at the center trained Valdez for a receptionist job, taught her how to do a resume and later, in 2005, steered her into getting her GED.

Today, the 18 year-old issues loans for a Valley financial service center, where she earns $9 an hour. She plans to return to CPLC and train to be a legal secretary.

"They set a path for me of where I wanted to go," Valdez said. "I wouldn't be where I am without CPLC."

The center pays to send some of its clients to job training, including things like how to drive a service truck.

"Most adults need jobs, and when they get to those jobs, we do follow-ups to make sure they continue to work," said Eloise Enriquez, the center's director. "We also work with youth throughout the year. They could be in our summer work programs at the city or state so they can get exposure."

The center also connects clients to jobs. Businesses, like Cingular, Bank of America and Checker Auto Parts, are serving more Latino customers and come to CPLC to find bilingual workers. Also, the center will hold a job fair Wednesday.

"We are tapping into a market that is very fertile," said Jose Cortez, the center's support services specialist.

"This is a strategy that workforce center has devised to meet that demand for bilingual speaking employees."

While in 1976 most of the people asking CPLC for help were Spanish-speaking, many now are bilingual.

Also, there is greater interest in computer training, a departure from the early days when Latinos sought typing and receptionist training, Enriquez said.

"Now, kids in grammar school are learning computers, and parents feel a need to catch up, and they ask for computer training," Enriquez said.