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Diocesan Catholic Charities sponsors its first job fair

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Do you have any job openings?


Twenty-two employers in the Washington area answered that question for job seekers at the first Community Job Fair at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria April 28. The fair was sponsored by diocesan Catholic Charities, Bridges to Independence, Opportunity Neighborhood Mount Vernon and Good Shepherd.


Susan Grunder, director of social ministry at Good Shepherd, said the job fair provided an opportunity for “our brothers and sisters to thrive.”


“Having meaningful, productive work helps support a family economically,” she said. “But work is more than a way to make a living. It is a form of participating in our society and world.”


For people in the Mount Vernon area, that opportunity is not as available for many. Overall unemployment in Fairfax County is 2.4 percent, but for those living in poverty in the Mount Vernon area, the unemployment rate is more than double that at 6.5 percent, according to demographics from Fairfax County. In Mount Vernon, 15.7 percent of people living in poverty work full time and 20.8 percent part time.


In addition to the employers, attendees had the opportunity to learn the best ways to update their resumes and get information about community resources. Head Start of Fairfax County, Fairfax County Health, Hogar Immigrant Services and voter registration were among the resources. “The resource tables were another opportunity to contribute to the flourishing of our neighbors by strengthening their safety nets and widening their opportunities,” said Grunder.


The Christ House Thrift Shop offered an interview clothing closet, with suits, dresses and shoes.


“We know how expensive suits are, especially if you aren’t currently working,” said Sherri Longhill, emergency assistance program director. “If people come and can’t find an outfit or shoes in their size I will give them a gift card to come to the thrift store at Christ House and find something.” 


The opportunity for face-to-face job applications can make a difference.


“Resumes do express who you are but sometimes when you speak to someone in person they get to know you and you are more than that sheet of paper,” said Celestine Person-Green, one of the attendees, who retired three years ago but is looking to get back to work.


“I think I can still be of value to the society,” she said.


Janet Goda said it is difficult when you apply online and your application goes into a black hole. “There is something personable about (job fairs),” she said. “People are rooting for you, and I think the fact that a parish is doing this is wonderful. I hope that people that came here will be blessed with finding a job opportunity.” 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018