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Job Fair for People with Disabilities Offers Person-to-Person Opportunity

By Rhonda Miller | Published 04 Oct 2012 09:44pm | comments
Army veteran Ben Lamey, 49, says he has lots of work experience but has been unemployed for a- year-and-a-half.

There’s  one thing Mississippians and people across the U.S. want more of - jobs, jobs and more jobs. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports a job fair held in Biloxi yesterday is a response to that need, especially for people with disabilities.

With his manila envelope in hand, 49-year-old Army veteran Ben Lamey is at the job fair, neatly-groomed and determined to find work.  Lamey says with all his experience as a welder and work site safety inspector, he can hardly believe he finally had to get food stamps because he’s been unemployed so long.

"About ayear and a half now." "Were you ever unemployed before?" "For maybe a week or two. This is the longest I’ve been out of work.  I just can’t get anybody to give me a chance. I’ve beaten cancer. I’m working on beating diabetes. And when people find out this, it’s like they throw me like a hot potato. They don’t want to touch me or give me a chance. It’s a struggle every day."

Lamey was one of more than 500 people at a job fair for people with disabilities, including military veterans. Janie O’Keefe of Disability Connection is coordinator of the event.

"What we find is that in this day and age, the process can be kind of overwhelming for some people. Because a lot of it is internet based, it’s online and it’s very impersonal. We are giving an opportunity for people that are maybe a little concerned about that process to meet face-to-face with the employer."

Good matches move along quickly.. 

"Here’s my contact information right here on the bottom. I'll give you my card. The reason I’m giving you this card, because we have a program out there for veterans. It's called VERT..."

That’s Mike Catchings of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, who specializes in recruiting military veterans.

"...Veterans Employee Resource Team. What we're trying to do is make the transition from the military to the civilian side much easier. Do you have a copy of your resume, by any chance?"

Catchings immediately saw potential in 25-year-old Army veteran Mark Harper.

Just looking to find some for a career."  "You had a pretty good little conversation here with Ingalls."  "Yes, that was pretty good."  "Is that something you’re interested in?"  "Yeah, definitiely."

Job fair coordinator Janie OKeefe estimates employers at the event had a total of about 100 positions they want to fill.    

Rhonda Miller. MPB News. Biloxi.



Army veteran Ben Lamey, 49, says he has lots of work experience but has been unemployed for a- year-and-a-half.



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