HENDERSON — The Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments Reentry Roundtable will host a Reentry Resource Fair at the Aycock Recreation Center from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
Workforce Development Director Lou Grillo said the Reentry Resource Fair is designed specifically to help those trying to rejoin the community after a prison sentence find the resources needed to establish themselves in the workforce.
“I would consider this our inaugural event,” Grillo said. “We had a smaller event that took place last year at the library, but this is the first time we’ve done something of this magnitude.”
Grillo said that Wednesday’s fair would not be possible without the efforts of the Reentry Roundtable, a group of partners led by the Workforce Development Board in collaboration with the Family Resource Center.
The Reentry Roundtable has amassed a variety of partners since its inception, which include numerous local agencies along with District Attorney Mike Waters’ office, the Vance County Sheriff’s Office and Henderson Police Department.
Grillo said that the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered attempts by former prisoners to join the workforce, he hopes that the Resource Fair can help them make connections that will allow them to find an ideal job.
“April is reentry month,” Grillo said. “There are a number of people that are separated from employment right now, but we want to help pull together resources that can help link people together in the community.”
Grillo said that service providers will be on site at the Aycock Recreation Center to talk with returnees about expungement, a court-ordered process to erase a legal record in the eyes of the law.
Along with providing information that can start the expungement process, the Reentry Roundtable will have partners in attendance to talk about housing, transportation, food assistance and driver’s license restoration.
Outreach programs are also going to be a major focal point of the Reentry Resource Fair. Representatives from these programs will talk to those seeking help with substance-abuse and mental-health issues.
Mayor Eddie Ellington is scheduled to take part in Wednesday’s festivities to deliver a second-chance proclamation, which Grillo believes will help give the Reentry Resource Fair some extra significance as it tries to build recognition in Vance County.
Grillo envisions the Reentry Resource Fair becoming a regular event in Vance County and is encouraging anyone who is or knows a returnee to visit the Aycock Recreation Center on Wednesday to obtain helpful information on how they can move forward with their lives.
“We hope this is the first of many,” Grillo said. “There’s definitely a need right now and we hope that we can do another one in the fall if the opportunity is there.