Staff Photo: John Bohn Allen Jordan of Suwanee, left, greets Kerol McLeod Farmers Insurance as the Gwinnett Village Community Alliance holds a job fair in Norcross on Friday. The job fair, held at Victory World Church, featured about thirty employers who have current job openings to fill.
NORCROSS -- For Jason McDowell, the past five years have been tough.
Since losing his job at CNN, he found employment working for two school systems, but it isn't full-time and he isn't sure its stable.
He'll go to job fairs, but most of the time there isn't much to glean -- a pamphlet and a good luck, but no one to talk to about a real position out there.
That is, until Friday, when McDowell was one of about 1,000 people to bring his resume to a job fair hosted by the Gwinnett Village Community Alliance.
"It's pretty bad. Nobody's doing any full-time hiring," McDowell said of his experience in the past.
With about 30 companies offering positions from entry-level minimum wage jobs to management positions, the fair, held at Victory World Church in Norcross, offered hope to many unemployed and under-employed people, like McDowell.
Sherise Carr drove from Marietta to attend the event at her home church.
She has worked part-time to make ends meet since she lost her job a year and a half ago.
"It's definitely a challenge," she said, but added that the event's workshops on resume writing and interviewing gave her many tips.
After decades of employment, she said, she didn't realize she needed help, but one conversation may have even gotten her the contact she had been looking for.
"It's good to get out there and get more information," she said, adding that one of the workshop leaders asked her to apply for a job at her company. "I'm excited about getting home and updating my resume to get it to her."
America's sluggish economy has hit the Gwinnett Village area and surrounding communities especially hard, said Letycia Pastrana, the director of the Gwinnett Village Community Alliance.
In recent months, about 200 families have come to the organization for help. Most come for job placement assistance but also struggle with basic needs like food, she said.
"The spike was evident last year," she said of the need, which caused the alliance to host its job fair for the third year. This year, "people were waiting at the doors."
For Ramon Dominguez, retirement hasn't been easy.
The 62-year-old is back in the job market not only to keep him busy but to keep up with the growing price of food and other goods.
"I am enjoying the retirement, but I need something to get me involved," the Lawrenceville man said as he filled out a job application at the fair. "Today, everything is more expensive. You spend more money every day, so you need to produce more money every day. ... I've never seen a situation like this."