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Cincinnati Works workshop aims to prepare East Westwood residents for Final Fridays job fair

'It's just what this neighborhood deserves'
Devontae Johnson does a practice interview at a Cincinnati Works workshop and resource fair in East Westwood on Aug. 17, 2021. He is wearing a white tank top and a Pittsburgh Steelers lanyard.
Posted at 12:43 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 18:05:10-04

CINCINNATI — Devontae Johnson was one of the first people at a Cincinnati Works resource fair at Third Presbyterian Church in East Westwood on Tuesday.

Johnson has been working since he graduated from Western Hills University High School in 2019, he said, but he’s looking for something different.

“I want to do some work that benefits others,” he said. “That I can enjoy doing and help benefit others.”

Cincinnati city council members Steve Goodin and Jan-Michele Kearney asked Cincinnati Works to bring the workshop and resource fair to East Westwood to benefit people like Johnson.

The goal was to help East Westwood residents prepare for a Final Fridays job fair on Aug. 20 at Cincinnati Works Downtown. WCPO 9 partners with Cincinnati Works for Final Fridays as part of The Rebound, a resource to help Greater Cincinnati make it to the other side of the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to make sure folks are prepared,” said Scott Priestle, marketing and communications manager at Cincinnati Works. “That’s our goal that ideally somebody will come in – a few somebodies will come in here – get the training, a little bit of extra training they need, and then come to our office on Friday and nail that interview and leave there on Friday with a job.”

Goodin said it’s especially important to support job seekers in East Westwood.

Steve Goodin stands outside the East Westwood resource fair. He's got close-cropped hair and a gray and white beard and mustache.
Steve Goodin

“A lot of folks think that East Westwood is just a part of Westwood and that it doesn’t have its own identity, and it really does,” he said. “It has a history. It’s sort of an unfortunate history.”

East Westwood, Goodin said, is a food desert by any definition of the term, lacks adequate public transit and has problems with code enforcement, abandoned buildings, traffic and pedestrian safety.

So many jobs available

It can be difficult for residents of the neighborhood to get Downtown to take advantage of the resources that Cincinnati Works offers, he said, so it’s important to bring those resources to the people.

“It’s just what this neighborhood deserves,” Goodin said. “We’re not just trying to maintain the status quo in East Westwood or create a slightly better status quo in East Westwood. We’re trying to bring opportunity. We’re trying to bring jobs, trying to bring some hope, you know, of folks moving on to a different kind and phase of life.”

The event Tuesday brought that hope in the form of help with resumes, practice interviews and a bank of computers from the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library so that residents could apply online for jobs right there if they wanted.

Four companies are confirmed for Friday’s job fair, Priestle said: Cincinnati Center City Development Corp., Venice on Vine, Frisch’s and TriHealth.

This photo shows the Cincinnati Works workshop and resource fair in East Westwood on Aug. 17, 2021. There are masked people talking with each other and two young people working with Cincinnati Works staff on their resumes and interviewing skills.
Cincinnati Works held a workshop and resource fair in East Westwood on Aug. 17, 2021.

“There are so many jobs available, such a wide variety of jobs,” Priestle said. “And there are so many employers that are willing to work with and be patient with folks.”

Johnson, 20, said he’s just looking for “an opportunity to help start me going further in life than where I am right now.”

“I want somebody to put some knowledge in my head to make me go further, like, in life,” he said. “I’m just trying to make the world a better place.”

The next Final Fridays job fair will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 20, at Cincinnati Works, 708 Walnut St., Cincinnati. Cincinnati Works members can contact their coach to reserve a spot. All others can email their resume to events@cincinnatiworks.com and mention which employers they want to meet. Those who don’t register in advance can check in at the front desk and get a chance to interview for a job. More information is available online.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on problems we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

The Rebound is a resource to help our community make it to the other side of the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. If you have a question or story idea, email us at therebound@wcpo.com.

Click here to join the Facebook group Getting a Job in the Cincinnati Area, where you can connect to other job seekers and employers around the area.

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