Zoo looking at homeless for jobs

April 7, 2009 4:01:39 PM PDT
The Philadelphia Zoo is hiring for the new season, and the zoo wants to make sure that the homeless get a fair shot in applying for jobs.Chosen 300 Ministries in Spring Garden hosts a monthly "learning lunch" for the homeless. The organization distributes more than 60,000 meals every year to those in need and Tuesday it was teaching the homeless what it takes to land a job.

"Nowadays all our applications are accepted online."

The 140-some people who showed up at Chosen 300 Ministries for a hot lunch and an opportunity for a job at the Philadelphia Zoo were told they could access a computer at the Philadelphia Free Library or at Career Link on Spring Garden Street but applying for the job was just one challenge.

"Regardless of who you are you must meet certain requirements to work at the zoo," explained Kathryn McKenzie, who is the zoo's Human Resources Director. "All positions require criminal background checks."

And all the positions require a Pennsylvania child abuse clearance.

There are about 60 positions available in guest relations, public safety, education, garden services, or housekeeping.

"They're the ones who maintain the grounds of the Philadelphia Zoo."

"I do see myself working there. I'm just gonna keep my head up high and try and apply," said Stacy Rivera.

The first thing zoo officials look for in every potential employee is politeness.

"You must have attitude. You must be able to talk to little Johnnie and little Suzi in a way that they feel great when they get through talking to you."

"I was interested in having a positive at the zoo that deals with education or biology," said Olaniyan Adefumi.

"Hopefully the zoo can reach out and do what others have not done and hire and give these men a second chance," said Brother Fred Tookes.

"We're not here to judge them. We're here to empower them and cause a change to happen in their lives," said Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 Ministries.

The jobs are seasonal positions. For the most part they will last up to 6 months. They are entry level positions that pay from $7.50 to $8.00 an hour and anyone who obtains employment will be given a transpass from Chosen 300 to help them get to work until they receive their 1st paycheck.

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