The Second Chances event is part of a nationwide effort by the non-profit Better Together to help people with criminal backgrounds find work.
TOLEDO, Ohio – Everyone deserves a second chance.
That is the message and focus of a job fair taking place on Thursday at the Wayman Palmer YMCA in central Toledo.
All participating companies are “background friendly,” which means they are willing to hire people with a criminal history.
The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to everyone. It’s part of a nationwide effort by the Better Together nonprofit to help those who try to re-enter society after serving prison sentences.
Hope for Fame Pastor Rick Morris knows how hard it is to get a job with a crime on your file because he had to do the same thing decades ago.
“If someone gave me an opportunity, it not only saved me but my children,” said Morris, “and it saved the people I had affected by my criminal lifestyle.”
Morris stressed that many people do not understand how difficult it is when criminals get out. Many inherit many challenges to regain their freedom.
“You face many hurdles and obstacles when it comes to doing the right thing,” said Morris. “They still have to take care of bills. Many of them have children, child support, fees, fines.”
President Joe Biden declared April Second Chance Month. The companies at the fair are open to hiring ex-offenders.
“People know that the people who come here have some blemishes, they’re squashed bananas, but they’re still usable,” said Morris
Stanley Smith says he was once labeled a professional criminal. Now he’s just celebrated seven years on the Lucas County Family Council as an outreach specialist. In the 1990s, Morris Smith gave his first job when he was released from prison.
“My first job was a roofer when I got home,” said Smith. “Okay, sure, it was a dirty job. I lifted the ladder two barrels over my head, but look where I am now.”
Almost a dozen companies have registered for the event, along with three recruitment agencies and groups that can help with suspended licenses or tickets, for example.
“There will be some community resources that can help men with their bags,” added Morris.
Both men and ex-cheaters say that having a job can prevent someone from going back to their old life, which in turn helps everyone.
“The community gets from it,” said Morris. “When a person doesn’t return to crime, it’s like a ripple effect.”
Smith, now happy in his current job and life, works with young children and encourages them to pursue a passion and a career, not on the streets.
“They know it takes more courage to hold a job or hold a book than it does to hold a gun,” he said.
Both Morris and Smith say they spent the time for both of them over 10 years. In peace they want to show others that there is a better way.
SECOND CHANCES: It can be so difficult for someone out of jail to find a job. A job fair is held on Thursday at the Wayman Palmer YMCA with companies willing to take a risk for you. @ WTOL11Toledo pic.twitter.com/gciEr6qmv9
– Michael Tatar (@MichaelTatarTV) April 29, 2021
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