Unemployed, underemployed pack job fair
Montgomery Works encouraged by 120 openings at Home Depot stores
Barrington Thompson of Germantown became a U.S. citizen two weeks ago. During the two years he waited for papers proving he was a citizen, he worked odd jobs in his community, he said.
Last Thursday, Thompson, 37, was one of more than 200 people at the Upcounty Regional Services Center who applied for 120 positions at two area Home Depot stores. His American Idol moment came when he emerged from a small office with paperwork for a drug test.
He was offered a part-time job at the Germantown store.
"I'm very much excited," said Barrington, a native of Jamaica. "My wife will be happy. She's the one who sent me here to apply for a job."
The crowd of job seekers filled the Montgomery Works center Thursday in the center and spilled outside the building. The upcounty Montgomery Works center moved from Lakeforest mall to the regional services center in Germantown in December, said Jewru Bandeh, assistant director of the regional center. The one-day fair was the largest event for the Germantown Montgomery Works site, he said.
From jobs in retail to restaurants, Akeem Cayo of Gaithersburg has applied for just about everything since November. Cayo, 20, moved back in with his mother after spending almost three years in Georgia with his father. While he was a senior in high school in Georgia, Cayo worked as a waiter at a restaurant, but he was laid off. He said he grew tired of working for moving companies and at other odd, inconsistent employers.
"This is a chance to get a job," Cayo said as he sat, twiddling his thumbs. "I'm scared of rejection. I'm hoping they give me a chance."
On average, 100 people visit the center daily, said Sumati Patel, supervisor of the Montgomery Works in Germantown. Beth Thomas, director of business solutions for Montgomery Works, a job resource center for county residents, said Home Depot will hold a second job fair for the 120 jobs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. She said the jobs will be split between the Gaithersburg store, at 15740 Shady Grove Road, and the Germantown store, at 21010 Frederick Road.
Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said the company usually increases hiring in the spring. He said the company often has community-based job fairs to "attract local workers." Holmes said the company does not give information on the number of people who receive job offers at job fairs.
One by one, people were called into one of the many rooms used for interviews at the job resource center.
Michelle Jacobs, 22, of Gaithersburg sat quietly in the waiting room, waiting for her turn. The single mother said she works part time as a waitress at the Bob Evans restaurant in Germantown, but she needs more money to support her two sons. Jacobs was finally called in for an interview just after 2 p.m., almost three hours after she arrived.
"I hope I get a job," Jacobs said, "but so does everyone else that came here."
Nona Watson, community development manager at the regional services center, said she started advertising the fair two weeks ago at the center. In the two weeks prior, people went to the Montgomery Works Web site, filled out an application through a link to Home Depot's Web site and were called in for interviews Thursday. Others just showed up and filled out applications on the spot.
A lot of the people who attended the one-day event have been out of work for some time, Watson said.
"We want to keep doing these kinds of events not just to get people into the Montgomery Works databases, but to get them jobs," she said.
The outpouring of people at the fair was an indication of how bad the economy is for upcounty residents, Bandeh said.