Getting back on their feet can be a real challenge for people released after spending time behind bars.
The City of Detroit is working to change that and help get returning citizens a fair shot at a second chance.
Saturday (April 1), a job and resource fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Union Carpenters and Millwrights skilled training center (11687 American Street, Detroit, MI).
Last year, the first time the city hosted a fair like this for returning citizens, 32 people were hired on the spot, and 21 were signed up for training programs.
“It’s the opportunity for you to be something better than what you were if you were incarcerated, for you to show a difference, make your mark,” said Darius Dent.
Dent is a returning citizen already on that path as he trains to become an electrician.
“I already came home with goals, plans, and a skill set,” Dent said. “They provide that in prison; it’s a whole workforce in prison.”
The job and resource fair is intended to bridge the gap between goals and opportunity.
Valerie Pilot of City of Detroit Human Resources helped plan the event and said it would include plenty of valuable information.
“Jobs with employers that are vetted that will hire returning citizens and resources they will need such as housing and even rent assistance, clothing, and training,” said Pilot.
The city partnered with Union Carpenters and Millwrights.
Juan Ortiz goes to schools and prisons to educate people about skilled trades and the programs offered by the union.
He knows an event like that would have been helpful when he started.
“I came out of prison, I didn’t know anything about an opportunity, and it took me a minute to get here, but I think if we teach people about it, they miss that step and just come straight here,” said Ortiz.
Returning citizens will also get information on Project Clean Slate, a program Nicholas Dubose went through to get his felony charges expunged from his record.
“Those opportunities that were here got out to here and then Detroit at Work, now we’re right back,” said Debuse. “I’ve seen the turnaround, and I’m thankful for it.”
The fair is free, and you don’t have to register.
Dent encourages other returning citizens to take advantage of what this event could bring.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about you and what you want,” Dent said. “Just keep pushing forward. The opportunity is there.”