Participants finding weekly Beech Street Engagement Center job fair useful

People talking at the job fair. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Getting a new job can be a daunting task for anyone, let alone someone who has no fixed address. However, a new weekly event at the 39 Beech Street Engagement Center is aiming to change that.

Recently, Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais announced a new weekly job fair inside of the engagement center at the 39 Beech Street Shelter, aimed at creating a single regular event where the variety of organizations helping the city’s homeless population can gather and meet those they support directly.

The event, also known as the “Care Fair” is intended to help break barriers for homeless individuals who may not take the time to go to each of the organizations’ locations. Jody Costello, a case manager for the Gateway of Greater Manager, says that ease of access is something she has seen during her time participating in the event.

“It has been helpful, I’ve seen some people get help,” she said. “I think that’s it’s important for the people that are suffering or are unhoused to feel comfortable with the people out there who are able to help them. With this, they can put faces to the services that are out there, so I think that helps them.”

City of Manchester Overdose Prevention Director Andrew Warner describes the event as a “one stop shop” and expects there to be more individuals using the service as the weather continues to improve.

“If (a homeless person) wants to go get treatment, or go get a job, or they need help with their EBT card, or anything else, they can come down every Thursday morning and get those things along with a shower, do their laundry, get lunch and obtain other services,” he said. “Normally, accessing all those separate things may be challenging if you don’t have a phone or your own transportation.”

A list of some of the partners at the event in June. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Alderwoman Kelly Thomas (Ward 12) and Alderman Bill Barry (Ward 10) had long advocated for the job fair, with Barry adding that a new program enhancing efforts to provide identification cards to the city’s homeless population has also been useful.

“It’s something that I was hoping we could have had quite awhile ago,” said Barry. “It’s a positive thing for those looking for assistance, whether people are looking for housing, jobs or something else.

As for those staying at 39 Beech Street, the fair has been useful in different ways.

Richard Henry Sprague is 80 years old and feels good that people at the fair still see him as employable, thinking he may attempt to get a job with an auto body shop.

“They gave me hope, they gave me something. When you’ve been knocked down enough in life, normally you can’t trust people because they say ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’,” he said. “At my age, I may not even need another job, but I don’t want to give up yet.”

Sarah Severance has been at the shelter since Easter. She wants to get a job, but has struggled with disabilities and the inability to obtain housing. However, she believes that she has made some momentum over the past few months working on getting her life back on track and she thinks the job fair has been one thing helping toward that goal, adding that she has observed it has helped some others.

“It’s a wonderful thing, it’s helped everybody and it’s there every week,” she said. “I see people getting the help they need and I hope they can get more people help because there are some people like me not in (substance abuse) recovery who say ‘oh, that stuff’s not for me,’ but there are people in recovery that use it and stuff for people not in recovery.”