The Gift of a Second ChanceApr 11, 2023 08:00AM ● By Emily Benson
The job fair is a part of the Nationwide Day of Second Chances. Photo courtesy of Better Together.
Imagine making a mistake that changes your whole life, no matter how hard you work toward redemption.
Each year, 650,000 Americans leave prison with no job or community. For job seekers attempting to re-enter the workforce, achieving financial stability may feel nearly impossible. Two-thirds lose hope and return to jail.
For the fifth consecutive year, local nonprofit Better Together is breaking down employment barriers by hosting a series of background-friendly job fairs on April 20 as part of its Nationwide Day of Second Chances.
Churches, volunteers, businesses and nonprofits across the country are coming together to promote the power of second chances for neighbors facing barriers to employment. These barriers expand beyond incarceration and include obstacles including homelessness, lack of transportation or unreliable child care. For Nationwide Day of Second Chances, Better Together has formed partnerships that will bring hope and opportunity to job seekers across a growing list of regions in Florida as well as North Carolina, Kentucky, Washington, D.C. and beyond.
“Our Day of Second Chances aims to help job seekers overcome barriers by providing job coaching and resources to help them succeed in their search for employment,” says Megan Rose, CEO of Better Together. “In a single day, we will help hundreds of people find hope, support and employment.”
In Southwest Florida, Better Together is partnering with organizations like Grace Church, which will welcome dozens of candidates to its Fort Myers campus on Nationwide Day of Second Chances, giving hope to job seekers who are struggling to break through the impersonal and unforgiving algorithms of online job applications. They just need someone to care enough to listen to their stories and focus on their potential rather than their past.
There is no secret sauce for this kind of progress. It happens one conversation, one person and one act of kindness at a time.
Better Together job fairs provide further resources to help candidates feel and look their best. Free one-on-one job coaching sessions review resumes and interviewing skills, while candidates may also benefit from free haircuts and clothing. Nearly all job seekers leave with hope in their hearts as the Better Jobs model encourages a celebration of their wins. Upon receiving a job offer or interview, candidates ring the opportunity bell, a sound that is soon followed by a room filled with joy.
“With opportunities for faith partners, employers and volunteers to get involved, there are a variety of ways to bring new hope to job seekers across Southwest Florida and beyond,” Rose adds. “Together, we all can be part of the solution.”
To learn more about how to support or participate in the Nationwide Day of Second Chances, visit BetterTogetherUS.org/Events/NWDSC.
Emily Benson is a native Southwest Floridian and enjoys writing about the people and organizations who call this region home.