Job fair draws large crowd

Three years ago, Sheryl Medvedeff moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Clarendon County. A 10-year stint with a debt collection business ended when the firm shut down, so she got a similar job in the medical field. Then she was laid off. "There's nothing happening in Maryland anymore," the 45-year-old said, so she moved south to be with her family. "If I can just get my foot in the door, I can show them what skills I have. Until then, I'm filling out applications." Medvedeff was one of the many job seekers to show up Wednesday morning at the Clarendon County School District 1 Resource Center in Summerton for a job fair sponsored by the school district and S.C. Works. Phillip Lawson showed up just as the job fair got underway at 9:30 a.m., and he guessed within 90 minutes, he'd visited all of the 23 employers on hand. "I'm going around to everybody," the 47-year-old St. Paul resident said. "Trying to anyway." Although he's been working the last eight months for Palmetto Construction Group of Sumter, he's looking for other opportunities. He stopped at the Central Carolina Technical College table and chatted with Human Resource Specialist Jennifer Jones and Rhonda Sherman of the school's student services department. Lawson said he's considering more training and classes from Clarendon County Adult Education to complement the certificates he's earned in resume writing and computers. "The traffic is good," Jones said, as Sherman spoke with Lawson. "We're telling people about the jobs we have available and education opportunities as well." In addition to the 23 employers, three services were also on hand -- Adult Ed, Harvin Clarendon County Library and S.C. Legal Services. "We're really pleased with the turnout," said Karenanne Graves, a S.C. Works business services representative. "There were over 200 people here when we started and they're still coming in drips and draps." Sen. Kevin Johnson (D-36), stopped by to see how the fair was going and ran into Summerton Mayor Mac Bagnal, who was doing the same thing. "The jobs are out there. Companies are looking for people who are qualified," Johnson said. "So I'm excited and glad to see people are looking." Bagnal heaped praise on the efforts of Kathleen Gibson, director of the resource center and parenting coordinator for the school district. "She's put her heart and soul into this," Bagnal said. "This fair could've gone to Manning but she brought it here." The computer terminals at the resource center are filled every day with folks doing job searches and working on their resumes, Gibson said. "I see the looks on their faces and I don't want them to lose hope. That's why we're here as human beings," she said. "To help and hope." Sitting patiently at a table on the perimeter, Medvedeff worked her way through several applications, joking that her fingers were getting tired. She said she's definitely gotten educated about what jobs are available and what companies are represented locally. Her outlook remains upbeat. She wants to get in with a solid company and prove herself. "All I can do is hope and pray," she said, smiling.      


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