Dayton Gets Real: Reverse career fair looking to help former inmates get fresh start

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A reverse career fair is helping people who just spent time behind bars.

At the Montgomery County Reentry Job Fair it wasn’t employers who were the ones on display, but rather past inmates standing behind booths telling employers why they should hire them.

“I’ve been incarcerated a couple of times in my life and never was released to a program like this,” Alonzo Davis said.

Davis is a graduate of the Montgomery County Office of Reentry Career Alliance Academy.

It is a four-week career and job readiness program focusing on education, networking, social responsibility and more.

“I think it’s important because a lot of times coming back into society like this, we’re stigmatized, and we think that the hope is gone,” Davis said.

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Which is why County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman said they have continued to hold this reverse career fair for the past three years.

“They set up the booth with their resumes and anything else about them that they want employers to know. And then the employers come through, walkthrough, and sit down and talk to each of them,” Lieberman said.

She said nearly 20 local employers showed up to check out the 15 RCAA graduates.

“We’re just hoping that every single one of our men and women in there get a job today,” Lieberman said.

As well as give them the confidence to start putting themselves out there again.

Something Davis said can be a trick for people who have served time.

“In there, there’s jobs that you know, there’s no way I would have ever believed that I could even apply for it because of my background and they’re at my table,” Davis said. “I believe with this type of program there are no barriers.”

Davis said he will continue to advocate for programs like this and he hopes to see more pop up in other counties.

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