Fayetteville community prepares for ex-offender job fair

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Community leaders stress the important link between employment and lower crime rates.

If there's one thing a new suit, pair of shoes, and a haircut will give you, it's confidence.

They're the basics and perks community leaders are making sure they provide those who are living with the label "felon" and "ex-offender."

It's all a part of the preparation for an upcoming "Re-Entry Job and Resource Fair for Ex-Offenders." The May 2 event prepares and facilitates meetings between felons and potential employers. Professional clothing, transportation vouchers, and resume help are among the resources being provided to participants.

"This really prevents us from saying, 'I can't find a job because I have a record," said Kenneth Carstarphen, a former drug dealer who is now a deacon at Fayetteville's Unity Christian Center on Russell Street. "It allows you to pick your head up and get in that spirit of, 'Yes, I can find a job and there's somebody out here who really cares about ex-offenders.'"

It's truly a community effort involving the Fayetteville Police Department, the Fayetteville Regional Chamber, Fayetteville Technical Community College, FAST area transit, the public library, the "Let's Make it Happen Together" nonprofit, and a number of other county and city groups and churches.

"Thank you for taking a chance on us," said Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock, speaking to potential employees during a press conference about the event on Wednesday. "We need to get you a place to work."

Community leaders also stress the important link between employment and lower crime rates.

"If we want to stop crime, we have to prevent crime," said Allen McLauchlin, a pastor at New Life Bible Church in Fayetteville. "And one of the ways is to give people hope and that's what we're trying to do."

Among the most vocal supporters of the job fair is longtime civic leader and Cumberland County commissioner Charles Evans, who faced scrutiny in his first political run because of a drug-related felony conviction in the early 1990s.

"It seemed like every door was being slammed in my face," said Evans. "But when I started praying, and kept knocking on doors and kept telling people my story, people were willing to help. Yeah sure, we've made mistakes, but we are willing to work just as hard as anyone else. Don't beat yourself up. Hang in there."

Evans also stressed the importance of recruiting more potential employers.

"If there's anyone under the sound of my voice that is willing to hire individuals that were felons, please give them that opportunity," said Evans. "Because they have families that they have to feed. They have themselves to take care and all that, and all they're looking for is a helping hand."

The job fair will be held Saturday, May 2 at the John D. Fuller, Sr. Recreational Center. That's located at 6627 Old Bunce Road in Fayetteville.

You can register for the job fair by calling (910) 323-1962, or e-mailing hopeforoffenders2015@gmail.com.

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