HHI job fair committee The inaugural Keys to Success Job Fair, supporting mothers and fathers living in emergency housing, was held on Oct. 18, 2018, at Homeless Health Initiative’s (HHI) community partner, the West Philadelphia YMCA at 52nd & Chestnut streets. What an exciting day it was!

The idea of a possible job fair was proposed by Della Harris, job developer at Families Forward Philadelphia, and discussed at the HHI Stakeholder Meeting in the spring. Planning began immediately, with many of the meetings held at the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center, CHOP’s primary care office at 48th and Market streets.

The goal of the collaboration of shelter providers was to find and create employment opportunities for parents in shelter. Both mothers and fathers attended the job fair. It was a wonderful opportunity for HHI to play an important role, as research has shown obtaining housing and employment improves families’ overall health.

The Job Fair is only the beginning. The next step for the organizing group, Keys to Success Collaborative, is to provide educational and training resources for parents and their children. The plan is to have an Education Fair for families living in shelters in spring 2019 and follow up with the second annual Job Fair in fall 2019.

Bayada Home Health, which employs more than 23,000 nurses, home health aides, therapists, medical social workers and managers, is our partner providing employment training in home healthcare.

Look to see what further results come from this collaborative in 2019!

Fabulous job fair feedback

These key Job Fair stakeholders attested to its success:

“Today was a testimony to partnership (shelters, employers, sponsors and clients), planning (planning committee dedication and commitment) and promise (employment, training and a continued resource for our client families). I thank you all for believing and making sure today was the success that our employers and participants stated in their evaluations. … Thank you for helping to change lives.”

– Della Harris, Families Forward Philadelphia

“Thank you all for your assistance and support from the beginning until today. It was a great learning experience for me as I transition my career into recruiting and workforce development. I believe the population we served today are the forgotten community when it comes to job placement, but we did a great job preparing them for success!”

– Gabriel Grove, Former homeless shelter resident and now CEO & founder of For Her Sake Foundation Inc.

“The gym was transformed into a beautiful space full of life and promise. Employers were smiling, happy, sharing stories with me of the great candidates they met. Some of them hired candidates today. Some scheduled interviews for tomorrow. Some shared feedback on applications, gave out business cards and asked candidates to follow up with them. Participants were shining, looking so good and sharing beautiful resumes. We built something amazing! We started building months ago and we haven’t finished yet, but today was a testament to the fruits of that work and the hope which will drive us to continuing it.”

– Joshua Park, Senior Manager, Employer Services, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative

“Thank you all for everything you did today! You truly are changing lives. We are so grateful to have been a part of this event.”

– Ronna Kassel, Executive Director, West Philadelphia YMCA

“Today was incredible. I can’t wait to hear the feedback and the new success stories from the attendees. Looking forward to building and growing this amazing opportunity for those who need it the most.”

– Stephanie Huwie, CHOP Human Resources, HHI Volunteer

“Today’s efforts demonstrate the hope and promise that can arise from a thought, a dream and a plan purposed and actualized. Della, thanks so much for having the dream and to all in the wonderful group of committed collaborators. Today’s actions remind me of the quote by Margaret Meade: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ “I believe the world for families experiencing homelessness has been changed; and with it the improvement of lives and the health of families and communities.”

– Karen Hudson. PhD, MSW, LSW, HHI Program Leader