Jose Ramon Lopez talks about his job as a CETA office worker with the enthusiasm of a kid discovering Christimas. Lopez is an office worker at the Spanish Education Development (SED) Center in Adams-Morgan. His CETA experience has not all been positive, he said, yet none of the disadvantages has dampened his support for the program.
He has two young sons to support - Jose Jr., 2, and Raymond, 7 months - yet he only shrugged when he explained that he hasn't been paid in several weeks because the CETA office was late in sendir; SED pay forms for him to sign.
He admitted he would rather be working in a music arts program or with children, rather than adults. "But when you think you're helping people, you don't mind what you do," he said. "I love this. I think CETA is the best program I ever worked for. It gives me training and helps keep me out of trouble, not that I would get into any.
"I'm helping more than myself, too. I'm helping the Latinos. A lot of them are afraid to come there (to SED) because of their age. But if one comes, others follow."
In the past few weeks, Lopez said, he has learned things "I would never have learned." He said he works in an adult education program that provides instruction in English and teaches how to obtain visas, the workings of the Social Security system and how to use other resources.
"This way the foreign-born will be able to get some of the good jobs and help other Latino people," he said.
His office duties include filing, research work and using office machines, such as the copying machines.
"This is the first time I ever messed around with one of those (photocopying) machines. I'm learning how to set it and put the paper in. I wish I had known that earlier, then maybe I could have gotten a job downtown," he said wistfully.
The job downtown and the move into the professional world is a consuming goal, said Lopez, who is 19 years old. Though he has nearly two years of school to complete at Wilson High School, he dreams of college and a career as a mechanical engineer.
CETA, he said, may be the beginning to that end. Although his job contract will end in December, he said he will learn all he can about office work during the interim.
"I'm looking for a good future," he said. "In case I do some across some other office work I won't be turned down. I want to show an example for both of my kids."