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'We make sure people get a second chance'mayor job fairOpportunity knocks: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter addresses overflow crowd at RHD career fair

Mayor Michael A. Nutter kicked off the 2011 Philadelphia Citywide Career Fair May 20, bringing together the largest gathering of resources aiding in the employment and re-entry of ex-offenders and homeless individuals in the city’s history, by urging an overflow crowd to stay hopeful and pledging the city’s support for their efforts.

“Working for the re-integration of people who did their time and now want to move forward could not be more important for the city, for the state and for the nation,” Nutter said. “The public sector and the private sector can do something in a coordinated way to help people re-integrate and not get caught up in the circumstances that get them back in trouble. The best anti-crime tool we have, is a job."

The Citywide Career Fair was sponsored by Resources for Human Development, a national nonprofit with headquarters in Philadelphia that has long been a leader in providing job training to marginalized and vulnerable populations, with the support of the office of the deputy mayor of public safety. The event brought together resources for employment, housing, clothing and education at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building, making this the largest single provider of resources for underserved populations seeking employment, independence and re-entry into society.

“Providing ex-offenders with opportunities to re-enter the workforce is absolutely necessary to combat recidivism and to build a brighter future for our city. More than 1,000 applicants came out, clearly demonstrating a need for these services and opportunities,” Mayor Nutter said. “I would like to thank RHD for sponsoring this job fair and helping job seekers reach their career goals.”

The City-wide Career Fair brought together sixty-seven employers and ten service organizations.

The Citywide Career Fair was inspired by a job fair for homeless and ex-offenders at RHD in November. Mayor Nutter was on hand to address an overflow crowd, and the success of that day began the effort to expand the event to include even more employers and a greater array of resources.

“Resources for Human Development was proud to be a leader for today’s Citywide Job Fair. Reintegration into the workforce for ex-offenders is a large part of the work we do at RHD, so I was so pleased to see the number of employers, individuals and colleagues attend to work towards a shared vision of successful reintegration,” said Jennifer Arthur Lewis, Corporate Assistant Director for Resources for Human Development. “We are seeking participants who have the determination to confront barriers and execute a plan to overcome them, people with an inner drive to change their life situations and create a new, successful reality. We want to develop employment resources that will promote and build better lives for our participants and their communities and make sure people get the second chance they dearly need.”

Lewis added: “I want to especially thank Mayor Nutter and Deputy Mayor Gillison for their leadership on this issue because it takes a village to make change happen.”

Keri Salerno, Director of Employer Engagement for Prisoner Reintegration Services, said: “Today’s event was a successful example of how the collaboration between the public, non-profit and private sectors works to assist individuals returning from incarceration to reintegrate into the workforce and community.”