It was estimated over a thousand people attended Thursday’s job fair hosted by State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.
“We are thankful for Representative Curtis Thomas for using Bright Hope,” said the Rev. Kevin R. Johnson, pastor of Bright Hope. “We’ve been doing this since I’ve been pastoring. It’s been a part of our ministry to help men and women to find jobs. People are hurting and we want to be able to help them heal their hurt.”
He noted it’s the duty of a church to be socially conscious to the overall needs of individuals that they serve.
“But also, we are concerned about making sure when people do go in for an interview that they know that they got to have the right resume, they have to know how to interview for a job,” Johnson said. “A lot of times, people from our community don’t have those basic skills.”
The job fair was seen as a holistic way to serve the community through employment opportunities.
“Our mission is to come out and support community events, and when we were called, we were definitely excited to do this,” said Stephanie Malone, Workforce Initiative Planning-AmeriHealth Mercy. “A lot of people who are here are a part of our health insurance plan.”
In an economy recovering from one of the worst recessions in modern history, job fairs have become a popular means to identifying gainful employment with companies that are hiring.
Thomas has been hosting job fairs in his district for at least 10 years.
“Unemployment in parts of my district is off the hook, it’s well over the national average,” he said. “And there’s a growing population of individuals that have degrees who are unemployed.”
Thomas credits the popularity of his spring and fall job fairs to three things, “one, the need; two, the agenda; and probably more importantly, there are people who are getting employed as a result of these job fairs.
Participating companies included: Temple University, The Urban League, Hahnemann University Hospital, Home Depot, Keystone Mercy, Marriott Hotel, Career USA, SEPTA, Keystone Mercy, Amtrak, U.S. Postal Service, Fresh Grocer, Target, Wal-Mart, Sugar House Casino and Einstein Medical Center.
Hope Ruffin, a recent college grad from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, was one of the many job seekers in attendance.
“When I first (arrived), there was a long line of people outside, so it was kind of intimidating to come up and stand in line to get in,” she said. “I’ve talked to a few people who are here, Jefferson Hospital, and some people at Northeast Treatment Center. I’m just really here to gain some kind of experience in psychology.”