Breaking Barriers, Building Success: Inaugural Second Chance Job Fair Shines in Beckley 

By: Matthew Holstein

BECKLEY, WV — Jobs & Hope WV, the state’s comprehensive response to the substance use disorder crisis, is proud to announce the success of the inaugural Second Chance Job Fair held at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. 

The Second Chance Job Fair, a groundbreaking event to bridge barriers and empower futures, brought together job seekers, employers, and community resource partners for a daylong initiative addressing labor market disparities and the broader challenges facing West Virginia.

Open to all interested participants, the events had an impressive turnout, with 100 job seekers, 24 employers, and 34 community partners in attendance. In a commitment to further support for job seekers, volunteers were also on-site to assist with résumé preparation and printing, with over 40 job seekers taking advantage of the opportunity. Additionally, more than 50 professional headshots were made available to registered job seekers, employers, community resource partners, and volunteers, enhancing the overall job-seeking experience.   

Governor Jim Justice, a driving force behind Jobs & Hope WV, expressed his support for the event, stating, “We all make mistakes, but that should not deny us an opportunity to redeem ourselves. This fair was designed to help people get back on their feet and find good-paying work. I am grateful to our Jobs & Hope WV team for continuing to improve the lives of West Virginians. Let us all continue supporting each other and give people the second chance they deserve.” 

Key partners, including the West Virginia Schools of Diversion and Transition, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services, The REACH Initiative, WorkForce West Virginia, local Workforce Development boards, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (districts), actively participated in the event, showcasing a collaborative effort to address the dual challenges of labor shortages and obstacles faced by individuals seeking stable employment paths. 

Jobs & Hope WV Manager Deb Harris commented, “This was a great opportunity for employers to connect with skilled candidates and for job seekers to find rewarding work in the Raleigh County area. The Second Chance Job Fair showcased the commitment that fellow West Virginians have made to overcome barriers and to find meaningful employment.” 

The Second Chance Job Fair kicked off at 10 a.m. with a traditional job fair format, allowing job seekers to engage with potential employers and identify positions aligned with their educational background, training, and skill set. At noon, a networking lunch provided a platform for employers and community resource partners to gain insights from local leaders and statewide representatives on the significance of reentry and employer incentives. The lunch session also highlighted available resources for employers within their respective communities. 

Transitioning to open interviews at 1 p.m., the Second Chance Job Fair facilitated direct interactions between employers and job seekers, a crucial step towards mutual success. The event concluded at 3 p.m., marking a day of meaningful connections and opportunities. 

Jobs & Hope WV extends its gratitude to all participants, volunteers, and partners who contributed to the success of the Second Chance Job Fair, reinforcing the organization’s dedication to empowering individuals, fostering community collaboration, and driving positive economic impact. 

For more information about Jobs & Hope WV and future events, please visit

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