Brownsville Community Baptist Church Fights Crime with Jobs

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In an effort to combat crime, Brownsville Community Baptist Church hosted a job fair. Reverend Harold Burton said jobs would help lower the rate of violence in our communities because employment would make a person concerned about life. “You see people being shot in the streets, just loafing. They should know that somebody cares,” said Rev. Burton. “This job fair is for the people because we are concerned about helping them.”

A dozen employers received resumes from job seekers who stood in lines stretching outside the church. “We thought we could explain to people how to get a job. A lot of people go looking for a job, and how they look, sometimes the boss turns their head,” said Rev. Burton. “We teach people how to present themselves to get a job.”

Minister Damascus Lee concurred: “I think it is important that the church is hands-on in the community. This job fair is to show folks there is opportunity. If you try, things can happen.” He added, “I think the only way to reduce crime is education and employment. We have a lot of young brothers doing things that are unbecoming to themselves and the community because they feel hopeless, they feel trapped. When a person wakes up in the morning, can dress themselves, have gainful employment, and can put food on their table, that separates them (mentally) from getting caught up in the nonsense out there. Education and employment are the only ways we can change things that are going on in our community.”

Ms. Sharman Blake represents Family Dynamics Young Adult Internship Program, a 14-week paid internship in a variety of placement settings: clerical, health care, day care, maintenance and restaurant positions.
“Some young people who successfully complete the program are placed in jobs. Others prepare themselves to get their GED or go to college,” said Ms. Blake. “In total, we have had a 78% success rate.”

Joe Gibbs, job developer for the Italian-American League, has an 18-week hands-on program for out-of-school young people 16-21 who want to work with major retailers. “Our participants receive a certificate in customer service from the State Federation for Customer Service,” said Mr. Gibbs. “We have a 75% placement rate in a variety of retail positions: stocking shelves, cashier, sales and customer service. We train for all the positions in a store.”
Shawn came to the job fair because he just moved to New York from Texas. He has an associate’s degree in electronics/computer science and multiple professional experiences working in the tech field. “I feel confident that I will find a job,” he said.

A representative from Per Scholas came to the job fair offering free computer networking training and prep for two network certification tests. “Information Technology (IT) is a very profitable industry. There is a lot of opportunity for growth,” he said. “In NYC, there are more IT positions than we have people to fill. In 2013, there will be over 4 million IT jobs nationwide.”

A variety of employers were in attendance. NYPD has daily walk-in testing for the Police Officer Exam 6 days a week in NYC. The NYCHA Resident Training Academy is taking applications for janitorial, construction and pest control training. Others included Quality Staffing and Management, NY Life, Neighborhood Trust, Non-Traditional Employment for Women, Metropolitan Life, and FDNY. Resumes were forwarded to Cablevision and MTA. The Dept. of Social Services and South Brooklyn Housing Association offered support services for job seekers.

“The job fair was designed to bring employers to Brownsville and offer opportunities to the residents of Brownsville and surrounding areas. Brownsville has a roughly 50% unemployment rate and is amongst the highest crime areas in the city,” said Minister Lee. “An event like this is positive news for the community in a summer that has heard mostly bad, and also an opportunity for residents to become gainfully employed.”

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