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Pomona Finds Community Collaborators to Expand Offerings at the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center

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Community: Pomona, CA (Los Angeles County)

Population: 163,000

Summary: 

Since its inception in 1998, the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC) has maximized community resources and build strong collaborative ties to the community in support of their successful programs for day laborers.

Program Highlights:

  •  On an average day, the center serves between 50-60 day laborers with job hiring and other services.
  • The centers ties to local schools and universities enable for the provision of language, art, and exchange programs for Day Laborers and the Pomona community.
  • Outreach efforts such as the organization of a city beautification project strengthen the relationship between day laborers and the larger community.
  • Provides health outreach and screening programs through a grant from the California Foundation and ties to local health agencies.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

Following the passage of a Day Labor solicitation ordinance in 1997, Pomona community members (including former speaker of the Assembly Fabien Nunez and Pitzer College Professor Jose Calderon) approached the city with the proposal to create a day labor center – a safe haven for men seeking work daily. The following year, the Pomona Economic Opportunity opened its doors through a generous initial endowment from the city of Pomona. For over the past decade, collaboration has been an essential element of the PEOC’s continued success. By capitalizing on resources already existing within the community the PEOC is able to provide a wide range of services to day laborers as well as the surrounding community.

According to organizer Eddie Gonzalez, one key to a successful day labor program is a community that recognizes the benefit the center provides to the city as a whole. The PEOC organizes a number of programs to publicize the good work done by day laborers and the community services they provide. The center has organized city beautification events where that helps to strengthen the relationship between day laborers and the community, to reassert the idea that “we are one whole.” The center also engages in marketing efforts to publicize the center and encourage increased use of the center – they advertise in the PennySaver, and recruit day laborers to flyer residential neighborhoods. Gonzalez says that these efforts increase the demand for workers while at the same time allowing the community to get to know the center and the workers.

On any given day, the center serves between 50 to 60 day laborers. In addition to the direct hiring services provided by the center, the PEOC offers a variety of programs to improve quality of life for the day laborers. Through continued relationships with the Claremont Colleges, English language courses are offered both in the center and on campuses, while at the same time day laborers offer Spanish conversation programs on the campuses. At the center, day laborers can take computer classes, enabling them to map directions to worksites as well as increasing fundamental skills for future employment. An art program has been developed through collaboration with East L.A. muralist Paul Botello. Finally, through work with local health agencies and a grant from the California Foundation, the PEOC is able to bring mobile clinics to the center to provide health screenings, dental cleanings and targeted health outreach efforts to this high risk group. In addition the PEOC is able to offer vouchers for medical service to their day laborers for use at local hospitals.

Finally, the PEOC offers worker protection and community development programs – offering assistance in wage claim issues and workshops teaching day laborers their rights as workers. Through its membership in the National Day Labor Organizing Network the PEOC participates in an annual soccer tournament held at the Rose Bowl where day labor centers from across the region compete and raise awareness of day laborers in California.

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