On January 15th the Volunteers of America with the help of the Red Cross of Tennessee Mountain Valley and other organizations hosted their first job fair. The event invited veterans and Knoxville locals to speak to nine different businesses in hopes of applying and having face-to-face meetings with employees.
Red Cross Services to Armed Forces Volunteers had a welcoming booth providing coffee and donuts to the veterans before they headed into the conference room to start their job search.
Clyde Vincent, the program manager for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project, said that the organization plans on holding this job fair once a month. After serving 22 years in the Coast Guard, he was unemployed for four months before finding work. He understands the difficulties that veterans face finding a job.
Clyde commented that it was not difficult recruiting the representatives from local businesses, “They jumped at the chance, so we had no problem getting the employers on board. They were more than happy to come.” At least 100 people came to the job fair, proving the success and hopefully foreshadowing upon future job fairs. Many of the veterans had amazing stories.
Anthony Whaley, a veteran infantry man since 1984, has faced a series of personal and family battles since his transition into life after the army. He has worked various jobs including a position at an electric company and a local grocery store. He says he struggled with a gambling problem and a work related injury to his arm. For the past two years, Whaley says he’s been unable to get a job despite his military service, “ [I] can’t even get a job at McDonald’s, that’s how bad it is.”
Whaley has taken up residency at the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries and has been working with Volunteer Ministry Center to help look for a job. “Each day I just say, ‘Lord just give me the strength just to carry it through the day’,” said Whaley. More determined than ever and on a road to rebuilding his life from the bottom up, he has quit gambling. “I just keep striving and hoping and praying and keep looking forward, I don’t look in the past.”
The Volunteers of America plan on hosting these job fairs in bigger venues and are hoping to bring in even more businesses to reach their goal of getting more veterans off the street and into fitting jobs.
The Red Cross provided information on its Nursing Assistant Training. The training takes about six weeks to complete. Scholarships are available to those who are unemployed – including veterans.