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California program for the homeless helps them pin down jobs. Ventura County `club' imparts confidence and job-hunting skills

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Job hunting is difficult enough, but for the homeless there are added complications: Where do you spruce up for interviews without a room, much less a dresser and mirror? How do you check the want ads without the price of a newspaper? What about mail from prospective employers, or a place to make or receive phone calls?

Ventura County's Homeless Job Club not only provides such basic facilities, it trains the homeless in job-hunting skills. The experimental program, which can serve only a small number of the county's approximately 5,000 homeless people, is nearing the end of its first year short of its goals and unsure about future funding. But those behind it are confident it will survive and grow.

A project of the Ventura County Commission on Human Concerns, the club has just one paid staff member - an employment specialist. It depends on the services of volunteers and staff members of the county's Family Opportunity Center United Services Project (FOCUS).

The club is funded by local donations and $64,000 of federal money administered by the Private Industry Council of Ventura County.

``The Job Club is the only one of its kind we know of in the country,'' says FOCUS manager Jo Anne Moore. A source at the National Coalition of the Homeless in Washington, D.C., says that although there are other employment programs for the homeless, Ventura's is one of only two or three that operate separately from overnight shelters.

Robert Rodarte is one of 24 formerly homeless people who have so far have found full-time employment after completing the Job Club program. Mr. Rodarte, who had come to Ventura from Los Angeles and was living in his car, enrolled in the Job Club program.

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