Joys, Hassles of Moving From Welfare to Work

MICHIGAN

`IT really hasn't hit me yet," says the single mother of two. "We're still making adjustments."

Two weeks earlier, Natalie Guizar started work as an administrative assistant at Systrand Manufacturing Corporation in Detroit. At the moment, she's creating a computerized form using a word- processing program. The work pays $7 an hour - about $150 more a month than the welfare benefits she had received since the birth of her second child in 1988.

"You can find a lot of minimum-wage jobs," she says. "But if you want to find a job that makes it, you have got to have some kind of training."

Ms. Guizar got hers through a state-funded program called the Michigan Opportunity Skills Program. For four months last summer, she took a computer-operating course. Then, she spent a difficult six months looking for work.

"There were plenty of times I wanted to give up," she says. "I mailed out all these resumes and nothing happened." Finally, in the last week of February, Guizar got two job offers in two days.

The best part of working? "My independence - being able to take care of myself," she says.

The worst part? Probably the commute. In the same week that Guizar got her first paycheck, her car broke down.

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