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Birmingham’s Second Chance Hiring Fair Attracts Hundreds of Job Seekers, Employers 

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(Photo, Barnett Wright, The Birmingham Times)

By Sym Posey

The Birmingham Times

Sean Wilson,18, came to the Boutwell Auditorium in downtown Birmingham on Tuesday not looking for a second chance, but just a chance – at a job.

He was hesitant to come at first because of “the nervousness of being turned down,” he said. He needn’t worry. Wilson was a new hire for Lear Company and came away saying he was “beyond blessed” to find work.

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr’s Office in collaboration with several local nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies held its eighth Second Chance Hiring Fair at the Boutwell, a hiring event that welcomes anyone struggling to secure employment, especially those with criminal records.

Organizers said it was the largest fair since the event began seven years ago.

“People that I have seen come in and out of the system, in and out of prison, they just need an opportunity. And I want to provide an opportunity for them. What better way than the DA himself doing a job fair and the target audience is people who’ve been in the system, “said Carr.

He added, “things like this are unorthodox for a DA to do, but I understand that certain people just need a leg up and a second opportunity. I think this is the perfect platform to provide this second opportunity.”

More than 50 employers participated in the event including DDS Solutions, Birmingham Water Works, Metro Area Express (MAX), and Lear Company. Some, like Lear, participated for the first time.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Marche King of Lear. “We wanted to make sure we were a part … we’ve done others hiring fairs in other areas with a great turn out from the job seekers and we just felt like this would be an opportunity we did not want to miss”.

Since the fair’s began in 2019, it has totaled 1,500 job seekers; 786 hires; 50-plus employers and a potential economic impact of $19,650,000+ ($25,000 X 786), according to organizers.

Dionne Dixon, who participated in the job fair last year, said the event helped her find employment. “I came out to the hiring fair, nervous and all and it end up being worth it,” she said.

Will Strait, a managing partner with DDS Solutions, an asset-based logistic agency specializes in assisting shippers and manufactures, said his company was “looking for folks that want to find a career and get a second chance at life. We are all about helping people.”

Kris Erskine, Pastor of The MoveMent Fellowship Church (TMFC) in Pratt says that “we’ve been connected to prison fellowship. We have our own prison fellowship called MoveMent Offenders Reenter Experience (MORE), so we had to partner with DA Carr who’s a friend of the community.”

Erskine says Second Chance is about “an opportunity where someone can come in, fill out information, meet employers, get hired on the spot and their past won’t be held against them. “

“What’s unique is you have people who have no felonies, have no issues with their background, who just need a job or a career change,” said Erskine. “That’s the misnomer when people hear second chance. They automatically assume it can be your past, your background, incarceration, but it can just be a second chance for anybody. A new beginning.”