Ex-offenders find success with job fair

PHILADELPHIA - July 30, 2013

Mayor Michael Nutter hosted a job expo featuring more than 100 companies at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The event was rescheduled from this past May when sell-out crowds overwhelmed the staff at the Municipal Service Building and it was shut down.

This time the city was ready.

Hundreds of former inmates turned in résumés hoping to score a job with the City of Philadelphia and the City was not the only one hiring.

Larry Vladimir is opening Baker's Centre Laundry in Hunting Park.

He is looking to fill eight part-time positions in the next two weeks.

"People have different circumstances in their lives and they deserve a second chance," Vladimir said.

That's good news for Shanda Teague who transitioned back into society four years ago and is looking for a fresh start.

"I may have the qualifications, but once they look at your criminal background they push you to the side and say you are not qualified," Teague said.

The city is hoping to tear down those barriers.

Free on the spot training was available including computer and interview training, plus lawyers to help with record expungement.

Companies including Mary Kay, Walmart, Septa, Comcast and Cintas took applications.

"Our goal as we develop our employment plan is to bring 750 returned citizens back into employment," Bill Hart of R.I.S.E. Philadelphia said.

31-year old Marvin Graham spent 15-years in prison and released just a year ago tomorrow.

He is employed as a dishwasher, but came to the expo for the workshops.

"It's kind of like you are just popping up on a grid; I never had a work history, credit history," Graham said.

Sam Beto spent 16 years behind bars and was released this month.

He submitted his resume to Acme hoping for that second chance.

"There is a lot of people trying to help you here so I wasn't really expecting that," Beto said.

Same goes for Chauncey Ford, who was overwhelmed by all those willing to help him get back on track.

"This is the most incredible thing I ever seen in my life," Ford said.

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