SRHA hosts career fair

Published 10:45 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hundreds of unemployed residents came out to a Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority career fair Thursday looking to meet employers, sharpen their job-searching skills and find extra support.

The career fair was held at Tabernacle Christian Church, with about 22 employers and resources in attendance.

Fair coordinator Lana Pressley, a public housing family self-sufficiency specialist, said she hoped the fair would offer support to Suffolk residents who are out of work.

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“We know people need jobs,” she said. “We wanted to create a venue to bring together employers, community organizations and job seekers.”

Attendees could get information from companies looking to hire, such as Lowe’s; community colleges; and community groups offering help to the unemployed, like Optima Family Care.

Jesro M. Nesbitt Sr., a field supervisor with Optima Health, said the group wanted to come to the career fair to inform people about their health coverage options for people who are unemployed.

He said a lot of the people he talked to at the fair had concerns about medical coverage, and it’s his job to offer them resources on how they can cover themselves and their families.

Nesbitt said he thinks the fair was a success.

“It was excellent,” he said. “We had a good turnout.”

Like Nesbitt, DeForest A. Mapp, a program supervisor with Family Redirection Institute, came to the fair to offer support, but he also was looking to employ some people.

He said the institute was looking for people of all levels of education for various positions, including jobs in mentoring and school-based aid.

“I had a few candidates that I’m looking into,” Mapp said.

Additionally, Paul D. Camp Community College career coach Sandra Walker was at the career fair to talk to people about the school’s On-Ramp Program, which helps unemployed people with tuition, books and fees to help them gain skills to get back to work.

“I had at least 20 referrals,” she said. “That’s a pretty good day.”

The fair also featured workshops to help the people during their job hunts.

Throughout the day, SRHA held workshops on interviewing and cover letter and resume writing, and the group also did resume critiques.

Pressley said she thinks these skills are essential for anyone to find a job.

“They are primary,” she said. “If you don’t have them, you probably won’t get a job.”

“People seemed very interested in the workshops,” she said.

About 200 people attended the fair throughout the day.