I got a call from Saburah Dixon El-Amin, the executive director of the SHARE Center, asking whether I could write about the center's annual job fair.
Why?, I asked. The economy is experiencing a slow but steady upswing. More and more people are finding work.
Kentucky's unemployment rate sits just below 8 percent, which wouldn't be anything to brag about had we not had rates as high as 10.5 percent in 2009. In Lexington, the jobless rate is about 6.6 percent.
That's still a bit high for the city, but folks are finding work. Right?
Unfortunately, some people are so discouraged they have simply stopped looking. And those people, many of whom also lost have unemployment benefits, are surviving on some other government assistance.
El-Amin isn't too crazy about that.
"People need jobs to get off of government assistance," she said.
Although that assistance helps people to survive, it limits their potential. "That assistance is not for able-bodied people," El-Amin said. "I want to get people off of that unless they really need it."
The SHARE Center, at the corner of Georgetown and Ash streets, is all about helping people, she said. SHARE, an acronym for Services for Human Advancement and Resource Enhancement, offers programs for the public and for ex-offenders who are trying to regain their footing. It's a social service and advocacy center for social justice that is sponsored and run by the Lexington Islamic community.
Available programs include food and clothing banks, a computer room, GED classes and employment services. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings also are held there.
There is a re-entry program for ex-offenders that offers help with résumé writing, job leads and appropriate clothing for interviews.
Dixon, herself an ex-offender, asks potential employers about their policy on hiring ex-offenders so she doesn't send clients on wild goose chases, she said.
The job fair, scheduled for May 29 at Douglass Park, isn't limited to ex-offenders. Everyone who is looking for employment or who has lost hope of finding employment is welcome, she said.
Job-seekers should come appropriately dressed, with résumés in hand. If you don't have a résumé, stop by the SHARE Center soon to get help creating one.
El-Amin said about 200 applicants interviewed with the seven participating companies last year. She said 110 people were hired.
"We have 10 companies this year," she said, "and they all want to hire people."
Some of the companies hire temporary workers with the possibility of gaining full-time permanent employment.
According to U.S. News & World Report, about 19 percent of new jobs are temporary or contract jobs. It is a way to get your foot in the door, to compile a work history, or to learn a new skill.
The employers who will be at the fair include McLane Cumberland in Nicholasville, Whelan Security, Advantage Sales and Marketing, Home Instead Senior Care, and Office Team.
Some jobs start out at a little more than $9 an hour, she said, and some at more than $10. All of them give you a reason to get up every morning.
"That is the SHARE Center's mission," El-Amin said. "We want to continue to help people. Everybody needs some help. Everybody needs a job, and all these companies are hiring."
The rest, she said, is up to you.
Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog: Merlenedavis.bloginky.com.