More than 150 People Gain Employment after Local Church Job Fair

Members of the Altamonte Springs Adventist church in Florida answered the call to serve.

Carlos Medley
More than 150 People Gain Employment after Local Church Job Fair
(From left to right): local church pastor Dion Henry, Central Florida Employment Council director Paulette Wier, AdventHealth chaplain Ezequiel Vasquez, and Christian Help Employment and Resource Center executive director Vickie Martin. [Photo: James Hippolyte]

I’m sure you’ve heard this question before. “If your church burned down, would anyone in the neighborhood miss it?”

The old adage is a call to action for churches to get more involved with their communities. The members of Altamonte Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church in Florida, United States, are answering that call by expanding their services to community residents.

While actively engaging in a food distribution program that supports 1,200 individuals monthly to combat food insecurity, the church also addresses underlying factors that contribute to the issue.

The Altamonte Springs congregation took on the challenge of unemployment with a grassroots program that included résumé-building workshops, a job fair, and collaboration with local businesses and community agencies. Through dedication and prayer, this vision became a reality when the church partnered with key institutions such as AdventHealth, Andrews University Center for Community Change, and Central Florida Employment Council (CFEC), a division of Christian Help Employment and Resource Center (CHERC).

On April 25, scores of job seekers filed into the church gymnasium to dialogue with local businesses about job opportunities. Some of the applicants heard about the event through CFEC, while others came from the church’s food drive. Each job seeker had the option to talk with several local businesses and apply for jobs. After conversing with potential employers, many of the applicants stopped by the prayer table before leaving, seeking God’s blessing in their job search.

A few weeks later, CFEC director Paulette Weir reported that 226 job seekers and 17 employment agencies attended the program. The remarkable news was that 157 individuals gained employment after the event, the church reported. Local church pastor Dion Henry attributed the success of the program to the praying church members.

The church received several positive comments in response. “Thank you, and we look forward to working with you more in the future,” one partner said. Other comments from employers included, “I thought that this event was much better for the type of candidates that we were looking for as well as the location was easy to find” and “We like the smaller event. If you do another one, let us know.” Job seekers said that they were happy for this opportunity.  

Bob O’Malley, who sits on the local Altamonte Springs Board of Commissioners, praised the church’s effort to uplift the neighborhood. “The successful hiring event and weekly food distribution program are examples of the good work the Altamonte Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church is doing in our community,” O’Malley said. “We appreciate everything the church does to provide support to those in need.”

Henry credited the success of the job fair to CHERC executive director Vickie Martin, who organized the event. He believes the event will result in a long-term relationship with CFEC and other agencies. Looking forward, Henry says, the job fair will be an annual event that he plans to expand to include services with additional job-preparation opportunities.   After forging new relations and providing needed services, Henry believes the community perception of the church has changed. “If our church burned down, the community would miss it,” he said.

Carlos Medley

Carlos Medley, a retired online editor of Adventist Review, lives in Orlando, Florida.