Ex-offenders Get Second Chance with Career Fair in Reno - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Ex-offenders Get Second Chance with Career Fair in Reno

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Former inmates who have done their time and are looking to re-enter the job force got some help Tuesday from the Prisoner Re-entry Coalition and The Ridge House of Reno. The two agencies hosted a Career and Resource Fair at the Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center on Valley Road.

Finding a job once you've been behind bars can be tough. But at the career fair, ex-offenders found ten companies and seven agencies that were willing to help. John Whitehead committed a crime and served his time, and now he's looking for a job. He says it's not easy.

"It's like climbing a mountain," said Whitehead. "I have job skills and experience, but I find myself competing with entry level people."If you have 300 people showing up for a job almost the first thing you do is eliminate the ex-offender."

The annual job fair gives former inmates a chance to meet with potential employers. Dusten Smith, who now works for the Ridge House, says the agency provides ex-offenders with transportation, training, and even haircuts.

"Everybody deserves a second chance," Smith said. "Just because you made a mistake, doesn't mean that it should haunt you the rest of your life."

He says the Ridge House keeps tabs on how things are going after someone gets a job.

"So we keep in constant contact on a monthly basis and most of them have succeeded beyond their own expectations in the position they fell into," said Smith.

Lorri Mills of Gandolfo's Deli has had success hiring employees from the re-entry program at the Ridge House.

"The young man that's with me today he's one of my employees and he's one that's in the program and I have others from the program and they're awesome," said Mills.

Former inmate Donald Druskovich says being honest about his past is a step in the right direction.

"It's been an adjustment to go through an interview and be honest with the employer about your past and man-up for the mistakes you've made in your life," said Druskovich. He and other job hunters were glad to find businesses willing to talk about hiring. The companies participating included Baldinis Casino and Qdoba. 

Lorri Mills prefers to hire people for what they "will" do in the future rather than what they've done in the past.

"I don't judge anybody," said Mills. "Everybody makes mistakes, so for me I don't judge them for what they've done." The prisoner re-entry coalition says that finding ex-offenders good jobs, reduces the chance that they'll end up back in prison.

Written by Jennifer Burton

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