Fort Worth

Fort Worth Job Fair Connects Ex-Cons With Companies Looking to Hire Them

Nearly 500 job seekers and more than 30 companies attended the "Continuing the Climb" re-entry job fair in Fort Worth Tuesday

More than 30 companies were represented Tuesday at "Continuing the Climb," a re-entry job fair in Tarrant County. While some said they were open to hiring anyone on a case by case basis, others were up front with their limitations.

"Everyone who walks in the door gets one of these color code systems," said Andre Johnson, re-entry director for Cornerstone Assistance Network.

Job seekers were assigned one of seven colors, representing violent, driving-related, sexual, drug and other offenses. All colors were represented.

NBC 5 News
Job seekers at a re-entry job fair in Fort Worth were assigned a color based on their past convictions.

"If you go by the colors on the chart, you know to go to that table and you don't have to waste your time," job seeker June Lopez said.

Lopez is a "blue" - recently released from prison for an aggravated offense. She's also a former business owner, looking to turn her life around.

"It feels good that someone's willing to give you a chance and not just judge you because of your background," she said.

"I do have orientation at the Goodwill on Friday. A few other places are going to call me. I'm just hoping to get a job soon," said Cecalie Sanchez, a job seeker with a drug conviction.

June Richardson is a hiring manager with Beezz Construction Cleaning. She attended the first job fair last summer.

"Last year, I'd say we got about 25 pretty good employees out of that. This year, I'm hoping to at least double that," Richardson said.

She said this time around it was so busy, she had to make extra copies of her company's application, something that brought her joy.

"We don't believe in throwing people away. We believe in giving people second chances," she said.

For Richardson, it seemed to be paying off. She said she had seen at least three employees from the last fair get promoted.

"There's two groups in this population, meaning you have those individuals who have committed crimes and those individuals who are criminals. It's two different mindsets," Johnson said.

Johnson helped bring the event together. He said he planned to hold it twice a year.

"I've seen people come from such dark depression. It really touches my heart that I can make that difference in someone's life," Richardson said.

Another roadblock some job seekers have come across is transportation. Many rely on the bus, but not all companies are on a route. Organizers said they were looking at ways to improve that in the future.

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