Aid comes for jobless in Ceres

CERES — Looking for a job in today's economy isn't easy. It's even tougher when you have to travel to another town to search job boards, fax résumés or get help.

Diana Ross knows that. She's been looking for a retail job and says the new career center in Ceres has made the search much easier.

"It's important because some people don't have cars or transportation, and it's right next to the school district. A lot of people live in that area," said Ross, mother of two boys, ages 8 and 4.

The new Ceres Career and Resource Center is a joint venture of the Ceres Unified School District and the Stanislaus County Alliance Worknet. Located near Walter White Elementary in downtown Ceres, the center opened last month.

Ross calls herself a regular at the center, stopping by three to four times a week to use its computers, copy and fax machines.

"I'm seeing people looking for work for over a year. It's not like it used to be," said Susan Peterson, consultant- supervisor at the Alliance Worknet. "We know the centers are well used."

The Alliance closed a center on Hackett Road last year, leaving no state Employment Development Department and Alliance locations in Ceres.

But Ceres wanted something close for its residents, instead of forcing them to travel.

"There's a big transportation issue. Instead of having to take three buses to get (to Modesto or Turlock), we're giving people access to things here, locally," said Dustin Pack, the Ceres Unified administrator in charge of the center.

The center also helps people in other ways, like finding food or even dress clothes for interviews, Pack said.

"When people can't find employment, it's not always just because of the economy. Sometimes, there are other things going on," Pack said.

The school district provides the space and some staff for the center and the Alliance supplies computers, fliers and an aide.

Though most center users are adults, teens also stop by looking for part-time or summer jobs.

Officials hope to offer more resources this fall, such as a typing certificate and résumé writing workshops.

The Ceres Career and Resource Center is located at the corner of Lawrence and Sixth streets.