Vanessa Baldwin-Chestnut was out of work and looking for a job earlier this year when she passed the SHARE Center on Georgetown Street and saw a sign indicating jobs were available.
"I went in without a job and came out with a job," she said. "My experience with the SHARE Center was outstanding."
Baldwin-Chestnut works for MPW Industrial Service at the Toyota plant in Georgetown.
She is one of a long list of people who have found employment through the center and the dogged efforts of Saburah Dixon El-Amin, the executive director.
Another successful job-seeker, Mark Kirby, said in an email that El-Amin had gone "out of her way to address my immediate needs."
That dedication is behind the SHARE Center sponsoring its Fourth Annual Jobs Fair on May 14. It will be held at the Oteria O'Rear Community Center in Douglass Park, 726 Georgetown Street, from noon to 3:30 p.m.
El-Amin said 50 people found employment at last year's fair, adding to the dozens and dozens who find work throughout the year by dropping in.
Although she can't guarantee employment, El-Amin welcomes all job-seekers, even ex-offenders who have difficulty finding employers willing to give them a second chance to support their families. She checks with potential employers to see if they are willing to hire an ex-offender before sending them out needlessly.
SHARE is an acronym for Services for Human Advancement and Resource Enhancement. The center, sponsored and run by the Lexington Islamic community, is a social service and advocacy center that offers programs for all who are trying to regain their footing.
In addition to job leads, the center, at 572 Georgetown Street, offers GED tutoring and resumé-writing help, clothing and food banks, and volunteers serve about 100 hot meals on Saturdays from noon-1:30 p.m.
With all that help, finding work can be the last hurdle to becoming what those of us who are more fortunate call "productive members of society."
El-Amin maintains some people have been told no for so long, they no longer try. Some then fall back on public assistance, which, she said, is not for those who are physically and mentally capable of working. Or, they may fall back into criminal activity.
To prevent that, El-Amin invites everyone and anyone looking for work to the fair.
This year's fair includes not only employers, but also companies that can help job-seekers gain the necessary skills to be employed. The companies that have signed on for the fair include Aerotek, Employment Solutions, Goodwill of Kentucky, Jubilee Jobs, the Kentucky Department of Corrections, Labor Ready, Malone's Staffing, Manpower, Whelan Security and Xerox.
Applicants should come dressed appropriately and with a resumé, El-Amin said. If you don't have a resumé, the SHARE Center can help with that.
Job-seekers should also be prepared to stay at least an hour. Completing applications, testing and interviews will take place at that time.
"Dealing with the SHARE Center was a great experience for me," Baldwin-Chestnut said. "I also know that if I ever need the SHARE Center for anything, they will be there to help."
Unfortunately, for those needing a hand up, there are fewer and fewer places we can say that about.