Catholic Charities Job Fair Builds Bridges to Opportunity

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On Wednesday morning, May 18, people seeking employment were lined up in Catholic Charities’ hallways by 9 a.m. waiting for the start of an agency-hosted job fair. With 10 employers and employment agencies slated to arrive, people of all ages eagerly waited to talk to companies that included Careers USA, Goodwill, Walmart, ACCU Staffing Services, and Cathedral Kitchen, to name a few.

The job fair was open to both Catholic Charities’ clients and the general public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In all, 80 applicants arrived to speak to the employers and employment agencies represented. As they walked through the job fair, they spoke to employers, filled out applications, and talked to others about opportunities and experiences.

4 editFinding work is not easy during difficult economic times, particularly when barriers to employment exist, such as language and criminal records. Catholic Charities’ programs aim to help people address these barriers through case management and by helping them build relationships with potential employers.

“An event like this allows us to match people to employment opportunities they may not have realized existed,” said Moustafa Aldouri, Catholic Charities’ employment specialist, who coordinated the job fair. “We know that employment is the key to freedom, to the ability to realize your full potential.”

Many of the job fair’s attendees were refugee clients seeking employment as a means of self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities’ staff members were at the ready to provide interpretation services. Others were clients of the agency’s Welfare to Work program, which helps people nearing the expiration of their state assistance make the transition to the workforce.

5 editSheldon Batiste lost his job in January and has had difficulty finding work since, particularly as a senior.

“They say when you are over 50, it’s harder to find work, and so far that has been true. However, after today, I am hopeful,” he said.

“Its stories like Sheldon’s that make Catholic Charities want to work harder to help everyone in need. While struggling is a part of life, asking for help is not a weakness. In many cases it is asking for help that can truly change a person’s life,” Aldouri said. “All of those who attended the job fair are one leap of faith closer to changing their lives.”