Winston-Salem, NC -- Project Reentry hopes to help ex-offenders find jobs once they've served time.
Tuesday, they hosted a workshop called 'Job Searching with a Criminal Record'. The goal is to help ex-offenders prepare for Goodwill's Annual Job Fair, and level the playing field to help ex-offenders find jobs.
But Project Reentry Program Coordinator, and former ex-offender, Michael Thomas said there are several things a former offender must do before even starting their job search. "Actually, one has to first adjust their attitude and believe in themselves, because if they don't believe in themselves its quite naturally difficult for anyone else to believe in them." Thomas also said they must have the confidence to get to the point where they acknowledge their poor decisions, while directing a potential employer's focus to the skills they have that would make them a good employee.
Thomas also said it's not just about helping offenders find work. "It is a community safety issue. For each offender that does not re-offend, thats one less victim or family. You see what I'm saying, whether its in property value or an actual human being being a victim."
Thomas said Project Reentry doesn't ask employers to give ex-offenders a job -- only a chance -- at an interview. "If an employer can get past the fact that a person has a criminal record and at least grant that person an interview, they may find exactly the person they're looking for."
Project Reentry actually starts with a program while the offenders are still in jail and continues until their release. Thomas said since 2003, the recidivism rate of Project Reentry participants is 8.9%.
The Goodwill Job Fair is Tuesday, April 19th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It'll be at the Winston-Salem Sports & Entertainment Complex, Coliseum Annex Building. It's open to the public.
WFMY News 2