Earlier this month, more than 300 job seekers came to an outdoor career fair hosted by Casa del Carmen, a North Philadelphia social service agency of Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Held in the spacious courtyard at 4400 North Reese Street under multiple tents, the job fair featured some two dozen employers from across the region, all of whom had a particular interest in recruiting prospective employees from this highly diverse, multicultural neighborhood.

Recruiters included representatives from SEPTA, PECO, Metro Public Adjustment, Bayada Home Health Care, Aspira, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, JEVS Human Services, Sugarhouse Casino, Esperanza Health Center, Avon and APM (Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha). Human resources representatives from Catholic Social Services and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were also on hand to share information about employment opportunities within various programs and divisions.

Most of the companies and organizations reported that they interacted with between 150 and 200 individuals, with better than a third of those being qualified candidates for currently open positions. Job opportunities ranged from secretarial and custodial openings to professional positions for teachers, social workers and case managers.

About half of the job seekers were Latino, reflecting the demographics of the region. Consequently, applicants with bilingual skills were of prime value for groups like Casa’s next door neighbor, NET Community Cares, whose Community Liaison Officer Eddie Collazo was very pleased with the day.

“There is a lot of value for us to be here as the Community Umbrella Agency for this region, recruiting right within the community where we are working,” he said. “Being a community-informed initiative requires having people living in these neighborhoods also working for you. In this case, our friends at Casa del Carmen actually brought qualified folks to us, so it really does make our job easier.”

There were also information tables for ongoing education opportunities with groups like the Career Technical Institute, and Casa del Carmen staff providing information about the new BenePhilly program now available at their site, which will allow people to enroll in up to 14 different public assistance and benefits programs for which they may be eligible.

George Rivera, administrator of Casa del Carmen, sees this kind of job search assistance as an essential service among the many that his team provides to the local community.

“This is our third year offering a job fair, and each year the level of participation has grown,” he said. “The response has been great. Both employers and job seekers really appreciated the opportunity that we offered them.”

Casa del Carmen is one of seven Family Service Centers within Catholic Social Services. The agency has served the people of North Philadelphia for almost 60 years, with a particular focus on assisting the Latino and other immigrant communities of the region. Most staff are bilingual and programs including health and nutrition, financial literacy, parenting and prenatal support are offered in both English and Spanish.

Call 267-331-2500 for more information on services and programs offered by Casa del Carmen.