CHICAGO (CBS) — How do you fight crime? Police? Prison?
A church in Bronzeville believes it’s steady employment.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams has the story from the church where they are getting ready for a big event.
The tables and chairs are set up for a career fair Thursday. The church is hosting 20 trade unions. They’re putting people to work, even those who’ve been in trouble.
What do you do when you’re 38 years old, with a criminal record and you haven’t had a job since you were a teenager?
“Before you know it, you’re in a hole and you don’t know how you’re going to dig yourself out,” said Marcus Boyd, who had been on the streets doing, in his words, “ungodly things.”
He was convicted of a gun charge.
“I did a year in the state penitentiary. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” said Boyd, who admitted it made an impact.
“It changed me a lot.”
So Boyd is at the St. Paul Church of God in Christ, in class preparing for an apprenticeship at one of the trade unions.
Elder Kevin Anthony Ford is the pastor.
“If you’re interested and have the passion, the time is for you,” Ford said.
On Thursday, on the church grounds, representatives of nearly 20 unions will describe opportunities at a career fair. CBS 2 saw it in 2015.
Elder Ford knows many African Americans believe they’re shut out of the trade unions.
“There are a lot of efforts being made to cause inclusion of the African American community,” Ford noted, even for those who’ve been in prison.
With one exception, he said.
“You must be prepared and ready for a change in your life. That’s it.”
Elder Ford said his program has placed 220 African American men and women in well-paying union jobs. Keirsten Davis is working to join them as a sheet metal worker.
“It is open to anyone. It’s an opportunity you can’t pass up on. This is a career.”
A career and the antidote to crime.
“There’s still light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to be willing to go towards the light,” Boyd said.
The career fair runs from 8:00 a.m. to noon Thursday at 45th and Wabash.
All are welcome.