On Thursday, September 17th, 2015, the Fifth Annual Greater Hartford Reentry Employment and Resource Fair was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Hartford. The fair, part of a collaboration between Chrysalis Center, Inc., and the Greater Hartford Reentry Council, was created to provide an incredible opportunity for Connecticut’s formerly incarcerated men and women to attain employment in a number of industries. This year’s fair hosted over fifty vendors, along with addresses from two guest speakers.
The first guest speaker was Scott Semple, Commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Correction, who spoke of his passion for and belief in reentry. Commissioner Semple also gave some insight into his work alongside Governor Dannel P. Malloy in supporting the highly publicized “Second Chance Society” bill, which was passed in July 2015. The Second Chance bill is a package of criminal justice initiatives with a major focus on helping nonviolent offenders successfully reenter their communities after incarceration.
Following Commissioner Semple was Lester Fitzgerald, owner of It’s a Gee Thang, a barber shop, hair salon, and full service spa located in Hartford’s North End. Mr. Fitzgerald spoke about his history of teaching, training, and employing a number of individuals who were making their reentry from incarceration. He expressed his interest in continuing to lend a hand to people returning to their communities, and encouraged employment seekers to visit him during the fair.
Dozens of employers and resource organizations were present during the fair, including the City of Hartford, the Connecticut Convention Center, Bank of America, and the Connecticut Department of Labor. For three hours, attendees, all formerly incarcerated men and women, strolled through the fair, speaking with vendors, networking, handing out resumes, and discussing employment opportunities. Several attendees were interviewed during the fair, hired, and given start dates. Data will be gathered regarding interviews and jobs secured, with more information to follow.
Chrysalis Center took surveys and compiled a variety of demographical data from attendees, for use in the coordination and planning of future events. Surveys completed by participants were very positive, with many emphasizing their appreciation that the event was held for them.
Community Solutions, Inc. was a co-sponsor of the event, and thanks its fellow co-sponsors: the Chrysalis Center, Inc., Community Partners in Action, STRIDE, and the State of Connecticut Department of Correction, for their contributions and support.