Kalamazoo has one of the nation's worst poverty rates per capita. That`s according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
To combat this epidemic, Mount Zion Baptist church held a job fair.
“It`s a great opportunity to look for better work,” fair attendee Andrew Worden said. Kiara Cross added, “A lot of people around here don`t have jobs. They don`t have experience.”
They’re just two of the 700 people who attended. Each had the chance to interact with and give resumes to roughly 30 employers inside the church.
“We`ve noticed from being in the community, the joblessness and how joblessness leads to crime, the lack of hope and affects the education system,” Reverend Addis Moore said.
Moore, who is Mount Zion’s pastor, said he was inspired to help meet his community`s economic needs when the state capped welfare assistance just last year. As a result, 41,000 people in Michigan were removed from welfare.
The pastor explained that last year`s fair focused on job readiness, such as resume writing, interviewing skills, and how to dress.
In addition to coaching, this year`s fair brought in employers who are looking to hire. “So we`re helping people from the beginning phase all the way to getting the job,” Moore explained.
The Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce also offered expertise to job seekers. “I think the most important thing people want to see, they want to see the true you,” Chris Praedel, chamber director of communications, said.
“They want to see what`s special about you. You know, there`s a lot of people who have PhD on the tops of their resumes that aren`t reliable people and that can`t be trusted,” he explained.
“Employers want to see that you have a track record of working hard, of following through, giving to your community and giving back to your community,” he concluded.
The church wants to prevent the deterioration of their community, so it`s their hope that other churches put on job fairs in their respective communities as well.