Job fair in Flanders aims to help former criminals get back into workforce

Local residents with criminal backgrounds who are struggling for a second chance at starting a career will have an opportunity to attend a free re-entry job fair in Flanders.

The Peconic River Community Development Alliance will host the fair Saturday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the David W. Crohan Community Center/Flanders Senior Center on Flanders Road.

Alliance community outreach specialist Tijuana Fulford said the idea arose after she reviewed results of a survey her group recently sent to residents.

“I was told by a lot of people they felt unwanted,” she said. “They feel like their voices are never heard.”

Ms. Fulford added, “Minorities don’t come to events on the riverfront because they have no money.”

Some residents who spoke with Ms. Fulford also said they returned to crime because they couldn’t get a job after being released from jail. The fair aims to help break that cycle, she said.

Ms. Fulford added that she’s grateful for the support the event has received from other community organizations, including Rediscover Riverside and the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association.

“I’m hoping for a good turnout,” she said. “The alliance wants to help and I hope this does them justice.”

The fair will provide participants with information and resources and give them a chance to meet with potential employers and hear guest speakers.

Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County’s “Breaking Barriers” Pro Bono Law Project will be in attendance. The group reviews Report of Arrest and Prosecution (RAP) sheets for accuracy and provides people with certificates for relief from disabilities or good conduct. Representatives from Suffolk County Community College, the New York State Department of Labor and Job Corps will also be on hand.

This is the first re-entry job fair the alliance has organized. The group was formed last year and aims to get people in downtown Riverhead and the neighboring hamlet of Riverside working together on projects for the common good. In May, the alliance held its second annual international food tasting at Gala Fresh Farms in Riverhead. That event was held to bring people of different ethnicities and backgrounds together through homemade food and family recipes.

Ms. Fulford, who was named the News-Review’s 2016 Person of the Year for her community involvement, said there will also be fun activities at the job fair, such as door prizes. In addition, attendees will receive raffle tickets for each table they visit as an incentive to obtain as much information as possible in their job hunt.

Participants are asked to bring their résumés and dress to impress because potential employers will be in attendance, Ms. Fulford said. She also stressed the importance of having an active and professional email address.

For help with creating a résumé before the fair or more information about the event, contact Ms. Fulford at [email protected] or 631-740-9446.

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