By Cheryl Brown –
What would make an organization like Priscilla’s Helping Hands, Inc be a vendor at a job fair? The same reason 60 other vendors came out to offer their services and job opportunities to the youth of the community; to help them find meaningful opportunities in the job arena.
Co-sponsored by the Employment Development Department and State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, the third annual job fair entitled, “Today’s Youth Tomorrow’s Future Job & Resource Fair,” brought out about 600 youth and 100 adults who packed the San Bernardino Valley College Campus Center building last Saturday, picking up vendor giveaways and all day drawings.
Agent Socorro Donadio, a 23-year veteran recruiting for the Border Patrol said this is her second year and she was impressed with the behavior of the youth looking for jobs. Margaret “Debbie” Barcelona agreed with the statement, “they came prepared to get a job, many showed up in white shirts and many parents came with them. They had high expectations,” she said.
According to Donadio “applicants must be 18 but we are always hiring.”
The Marines attended and Staff Sgt. Dwight Lewis said they recruit by having the students fill out an interest card and they are contacted. They also have to make time commitments of 4 to 5 years as well. The interest he said was marginal.
Beverly Thomas was excited with the turnout. She represented San Bernardino Parks and Recreation and was recruiting for summer jobs, life guards and recreational workers. “I am impressed with the enthusiasm of the young people they came looking for employment and engaged, asking questions and they dressed for success,” she said.
Alicia Beckley Coston, of Priscilla’s Helping Hands said they offer help to parents and children 0 to 5 who are searching for a job. “They need classes, and many times help with their job search,” she said. The group offers classes on budgeting, and clothing and act as a referral agency for transportation needs such as bus passes.
Getting people back to work and youth having employment this summer is very important to me, said Senator McLeod. She encouraged the youth because the fair was geared to them but invited adults to also attend.
There were workshops to help in the job search, there were makeup artists and dress for success sessions, a computer lab to allow participants to apply online, as well as motivational speakers and elected officials.
Partner Bessine Richard, Workforce Development Specialist for SB county said, “if they didn’t take home a job, they took home resources,” Former NFL player and Olympic Gold Medalist Ron Brown along with former NBA player Cory Benjamin, gave motivational speeches using their lives. They said watch who you hang around with, set your goals and prepare yourself with education. Both signed balls for a lucky raffle winner.
“I saw more people this year than last year,” said Senator McLeod, “the word is out and people are trying to better themselves.”
Lynn Blackburn EDD Site Manager who’s office was the event catalyst said, “the vendors and public response was overwhelming. Costco and Best Buy came through in a substantial way. We can tell by this job fair that the economy is turning around. Last year we could not get the employers to come out and they are here, the military wasn’t here last year, today they are here and by the look of things recruitment is up.”
Partners included: San Bernardino Valley College, Forward Focus Youth Enrichment Center, Inland Empire Veteran’s Stand Down, San Bernardino County Workforce Development Department, Boys and Girls Club of Redlands, Black Voice News, International Association of Workforce Professionals and the City of San Bernardino Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.
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