Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Agency Helps Returning Citizens at Job Fair

Adrienne Pritchett smiled and briefly explained about possible employment, benefits and services during a job fair in Largo, Maryland, for returning citizens.

Pritchett, 47, an office manager for Lanham-based ComForCare, a home-care company that provides support for veterans and seniors, took pride in helping others. Herself a returning citizen who served 28 months in federal prison, she received assistance and job training at the same event three years ago.

“The people here are genuine — they do want to help you,” the Upper Marlboro resident said Friday at the Employ Prince George’s “2nd Chance” job fair, in which she participated on behalf of ComForCare. “I wouldn’t know where I would be without this program.”

Employers speak with job seekers at Employ Prince George's "2nd Chance" job fair for returning citizens in Largo, Maryland, on March 22. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Employers speak with job seekers at Employ Prince George’s “2nd Chance” job fair for returning citizens in Largo, Maryland, on March 22. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The quasi-governmental agency dedicated the month of March to helping returning citizens back into the workforce.

Because the organization doesn’t have an extensive budget, partnerships are a main component to achieve success.

The county’s workforce development board, Maryland Legal Aid and Tree of Life Ministries in Clinton helped Employ Prince George’s conducted an expungement clinic March 16 for more than 100 residents.

The agency held its second annual networking breakfast Thursday and is scheduled to provide a free entrepreneur workshop Wednesday at its Largo office.

Throughout the rest of the year, returning citizens can visit the agency’s American Job Center in Largo, receive one-on-one assistance and occupational training to determine a person’s skill set for future employment.

Businesses can participate in the state’s federal bonding program (https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/wdfedbondingbrochure.pdf), which is similar to an insurance policy, to hire returning citizens.

Financial incentives for an employer can reach up to $5,000, said Pete Goodson, a re-entry coordinator for Employ Prince George’s.

“It’s all about getting people back to work,” he said.

At Friday’s job fair, 30 county agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations spoke to future job prospects that Pritchett called “a felon-friendly environment.”

Pierre McCown, a recruiter for Dave & Buster’s in Capitol Heights, said the company hired 150 returning citizens in the past three years in positions such as line cooks, dishwashers and maintenance personnel.

“It’s important to give back to the community,” he said. “Dave and Buster’s took a chance to come to the county. I would say it has worked out.”

Jonathan Braham of Chillum, who has a class A felony charge on his record, sought general labor work. He expected only a handful of businesses when he walked inside.

“Usually it’s one or two companies when I’ve gone [to job fairs]. This is the first time I’ve been to one with a bunch of companies,” he said. “It’s a breath of fresh air. I hope something comes out of it.”

Although the fair was created to help Prince George’s residents, job seekers from others jurisdiction weren’t turned away Friday.

Aaron Williams, 20, came from neighboring Anne Arundel County to find employment.

“I’m looking for a career job,” said Williams, who seeks work in the construction industry.

He attended a recent job event in Bowie and received information about an Employ Prince George’s initiative for those ages 14 to 24 called K.E.Y.S. (Knowledge Equals Youth Success).

It offers counseling, financial literary, resume writing and other programs for individuals who are homeless, pregnant, in foster care or ex-offenders. However, only Prince George’s residents can apply.

For other information on agency activities and employment resources, go to www.employpg.org.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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