Anaheim job fair will help former inmates find work, services – Orange County Register

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A career fair that connects formerly incarerated job seekers and others to resources aimed at helping them secure employment will be held Tuesday, June 14 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The Reentry Resource Fair, hosted by The Hub for Integration, Reentry and Employment, will help some of the thousands of people released each year from Orange County jails and state prisons who are in need of employment, housing and mental health services.

The program also helps those who may have drug convictions, DUIs or other blemishes on their record. The job fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Representatives with HIRE prepare to videotape a client’s story regarding the challenges he faced in finding employment. (Photo courtesy of HIRE)

HIRE CEO Meghan Medlin, who founded the organization in 2020, said community support plays a major role in how former inmates are reintegrated into the workforce. HIRE brings together more than 700 employers, educators and community service providers who collectively provide help to job seekers who are “system impacted.”

“The Reentry Resource Fair will serve as a launchpad toward success for those returning from incarceration by providing an opportunity to access any resource they may need in one convenient place,” Medlin said. “We’re a kind of one-stop-shop.”

Resume revamps, hopeful expectations

Daniel Becerril recently tapped into HIRE’s services to revamp his resume.

The 45-year-old Long Beach resident was released from prison last year after serving 9 ½ years for voluntary manslaughter, attempted money laundering, attempted wire fraud and attempted forgery.

Becerril, who claims he was “caught up in the justice system” and falsely accused, said he’s looking to land a position that involves entrepreneurship and business building.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in business, and I’m working on my MBA at Cal State Long Beach,” he said. “My resume is much better after working with HIRE. I just want to display my academics and experience. I have software experience and leadership management experience.”

Becerril envisions himself as a business consultant.

“I’m pretty savvy with business operations and finance,” he said. “I just got my resume completed. I just want to find something that fits my background.”

Christine “Chris” Tokarz is also drawing upon HIRE’s services.

The 52-year-old former attorney had her law license suspended after four DUIs in a span of eight years. The situation left her wondering how she would be able to land another job.

“I had a lot of questions,” she said. “How do you address in an interview that you’ve got a conviction history? And how do you discuss transportation expectations with an employer?”

Tokarz has been sober for three years and worked as a hazardous waste coordinator with Amazon before being laid off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When they ask why I’m not practicing law anymore I’ll just tell them it was a very stressful profession that was high in conflict that led to some problems in my life,” she said of her work gap. “And if they ask for more I’ll say I’ve completed the background check, so please reach out to me and I’ll explain anything you might have questions about.”

Tokarz said she hopes to get a job in the nonprofit world that allows her to utilize her law experience.

Medlin said many HIRE clients lack the computer skills needed to navigate today’s job interview process.

“They don’t necessarily know how to do an interview, or even where to begin,” she said. “We assemble help that fits their individual needs and then we refer them out to our partner organizations.”

More openings amid the Great Resignation

Medlin said employment opportunities are looking up for people who have served time in jail or prison and for others who have grappled with other challenges. The Great Resignation has left many companies scrambling to fill all of their job openings.

“We’ve gotten calls over the past year from employers who say they’ve never considered this population before but are now open to trying anything,” she said. “And these people are excited to work and will be very apt to stay because they know how difficult it is to get a job.”

More than 60 service providers and employers will be on hand at the Reentry Resource Fair, including hairdressers providing free men’s and women’s haircuts. Representatives from UC Irvine’s temporary employment division will be there, as well as others from the Department of Rehabilitation, Virgin Mobile and the Orange County Public Defender and Alternate Defender offices, which will assist with legal questions and employment applications.

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