Getting a helping hand back to work, despite past problems

- The unemployment rate in Philadelphia inner cities is high. The unemployment rate for veterans and the formerly incarcerated is unfortunately, in a lot of circumstances, even higher.

FOX 29’s Bill Anderson talked to some in that group facing dark times.

They've been in jail. Also, many have fought for our country.

Now, they're unemployed but some local people are helping them get back to work or get better jobs and move on, For Goodness Sake.

"I'm a veteran and I've actually been looking for work for a while,” Adam said. “I'm trying to get back in a work environment. I want to do things for myself and my family. I've got a family and I need a job."

An organization on Allegheny Avenue, called Impact, is doing something to try to address the unemployment problem.

Impact helps people address their needs from housing to employment but on this day, it went a step further.

Councilman Alan Domb and Lowe’s joined them as they took time to prepare the community -- mostly vets and ex-offenders -- for an upcoming job fair.

"I know that I occasionally need help with my interview skills and the gentleman from Lowe’s was able to give me a few pointers to work on things," Adam said.

For hours, people came in and went through mock interviews with Lowe’s staff members who volunteered their time to prepare the visitors for the real thing, later in February.

It may not seem like a big deal to some but consider the circumstances many are facing, and being prepared could be life-changing.

Charles said he was incarcerated three-quarters of his life, and he’s just 53.

Thomas said, “There's nothing going on good in these streets, so I need a job. So I'm going to strive hard for this job today and if I don't get this one I'm still going to strive hard for a job."

The feedback was immediate and unlike during real job interviews, the visitors were able to correct any issues they had in hopes they get the chance to work through a lack of interview experience.

"I have a bad tendency to veer from the subject occasionally,” Adam admitted. “Sometimes, I catch myself and sometimes I don't.”

Naaseem said, “They gave me a couple tips that I think will be real useful in future interviews."

The interview practice was important but Bill Anderson says it may be equally important that potential employers got a chance to see that some have made bad choices, some have had bad luck, but most were good people you'd want working with you.

Thomas: "I just want to do better with my life, I want a change, I need a change"

Adam: "One or two bad decisions led to me not having better jobs so now I've got to restart and rebuild."

Charles: "Within life, there are difficulties but we accept those difficulties and we continue on and ultimately the good will prevail."

Nobody was feeling sorry for themselves. Nobody was looking to blame anyone. A local organization, local elected official, local business and local residents all agreed their goal was about helping each other do better so that their lives can get better.

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