By Patricia Adams
One of the larger crowds seen at Aqueduct in the recent past lined up on three floors of the raceway last Friday afternoon - none of them in attendance because of their racing interests.
Instead, more than 2,800 people were there for a job fair hosted and organized by Sen. Joe Addabbo. Thousands of people stood together in the ailing venue in hopes of finding a solution to their own struggles. The crowd, mixed among men and women, young and old, the experienced and the very willing to learn, all came together with the common goal of finding a job.
Vendors from more than 140 companies were on hand to screen the applicants, accept their resumes and discuss job potential. “I am delighted with the response that we got,” said Addabbo, “however the size of the crowd is indicative of just how serious the unemployment crisis we face is, and that is certainly quite upsetting.” In addition to the standard job fair offerings, attendees also had the opportunity to attend seminars offered by vendors and job counselors.
“We took this approach and included other components in the fair because such a diverse group of people does not have cut and dry needs,” the senator said. “What we are trying to do is to offer everyone a viable chance at finding work.”
And to the delight of those standing on long lines, it was well worth the wait. Kathy Vitello was born and raised in Richmond Hill and now lives in Kew Gardens. After working as a project manager in production and design for more than 23 years, the ad agency she worked for closed down last year.
“I have been searching since I am out of work but nothing has happened,” said Vitello. “What Joe Addabbo has done here today is amazing. I am both grateful and impressed.” Vitello said that her job hunting has proven to be fruitless and often frustrating, but she said, “today for some reason I feel hopeful. I am now willing to look at freelance opportunities to get something going.”
And many like Vitello were quick to offer praise and thanks for the senator and his staff. “This is a great opportunity,” said Jack Sampson. “I have had the chance to see companies here that would not even let me in their doors. We all owe this guy [Addabbo] big time for helping all these people like this.”
Another integral component to the job fair was the provisions made for one of the most rapidly growing unemployment faction’s today - seniors. “There is a tremendous need today for senior positions,” Addabbo stated. Because of the downturned economy and the rising cost of living, seniors find themselves faced with the unexpected—seeing their retirement funds run out long before the end of their lives. One group on hand to address the special needs of seniors was AARP.
There were also groups of professionals who were there to offer advice and the potential of jobs later down the line. Helmets to Hardhats, Dressing for Success and Vets Helping Vets, were just a few of the organizations present to discuss possibilities and plans of action for future employment opportunities. Candidates planning career changes also had many opportunities to discuss details with a variety of companies.
According to Sen. Addabbo, one of the most beneficial features of the fair is that the help available on Friday did not end with the close of the day. The senator’s office is in close contact with many of the vendors who maintain that they received a large quantity of quality resumes from the day. In addition, any candidates for employment that ran out of resumes or missed a particular vendor can still reach them through the senator’s office. “We will forward resumes for people that ran out of them or missed an employer that might have left for the day.