Job fair helps those with criminal records find employment

A job fair was held for people with a criminal record on Dec. 13, 2017 at Michigan Works in Grand Rapids, Mich.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A second chance can make a tremendous impact on a person’s life.

That was the theme of a job fair Wednesday for those with a criminal record and looking to start over after time in prison.

“This is an open forum, a way for them to get a face-to-face interview with employers,” said Amy Lebednick of Michigan Works.

Sometimes all it takes for someone to get back on their feet is a foot in the door.

The Michigan Department of Corrections releases about 10,000 people each year, and getting a job while having a criminal record isn’t easy.

“Many of these returning citizens have a hard work ethic and skills that employers need, so this job fair serves to connect employers that have critical hiring needs to individuals that may face challenges in finding employment,” said Lebednick.

Finding employment and keeping that job. Scott Alsgaard is with Holland-based non-profit 70×7 Life Recovery. He was on hand to offer something many starting over are lacking: hope.

“We surround them support,” he said. They have a relationship manager they’ll work with, a group mentor they work with (and) a one-on-one mentor.”

70×7 offers a three-week program for those recently released.

After completion, they walk alongside the job seeker and work to match them up with a full-time job.

“When they get a job, they can get some sense of independence and that’s what we’re trying to do is get long term employment for them,” said Alsgaard.