Job fair planned in Pierce County aims to end homelessness one hire at a time

TACOMA, Wash. – As the homeless crisis in our region continues to grow, finding stable employment is just one of the ways local nonprofits are trying to turn the tables.

Early next month, the Hire 253 Job Fair plans to offer employment opportunities on the spot.

“Getting your name out there, practicing, because, you know, we all need to practice,” said Norman Brickhouse with Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region.

Brickhouse led a job club seminar Wednesday teaching resume writing, interview skills, and anything else needed to nab a job during next month’s job fair.

“Mock interviews are so important; everyone thinks they know what to say -- until there’s a little pressure,” he added.

“We are working with a high-barrier population,” said Goodwill’s Kelly Blucher. “These are folks we need to do job club with firsthand.”

Goodwill helped host the Hire 253 Job Fair  in June when more than 500 people showed up looking for work from dozens of companies ready to hire on the spot. The job fair was successful, according to organizers.

“Thirty-two percent walked out of here employed that day,” said Blucher.

“I smile because without my smile I can’t live,” said Barbara, a Pierce County woman who recently went through training via local social service organizations.

Barbara asked Q13 News to not share her last name. She says she has been working with job club and other services to help get her back in the workforce after struggling with a housing issue.

“It happened so fast, it wasn’t something planned. It wasn’t something I was doing wrong, it just happened,” she said.

But Barbara starts her new job in less than 24 hours.

“My smile is what gives me joy because I know God stands by me,” she said, tears in her eyes.

It’s success stories like hers that gives others hope – that steady, immediate job opportunities can help pull more people out of a homelessness crisis.

“You put your foot out there and somebody says hey, I’ll hire you. That right there, why can’t you smile?” she said.

The Hire 253 Job Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, October 3. Organizers say Amazon, Walmart, Safeway, Fred Meyers and other companies will be at Goodwill, and some companies will offer jobs on the spot.