By: Doug Betts, Business/Education Committee Chairman
I know that many of those who read this article have experienced the feeling of building excitement and anticipation resulting from a dwindling countdown to an event you have worked to prepare. The Business/Education Committee is currently experiencing this exhilarating feeling as we come to the final weeks of preparation for the Mayor’s Youth Job Fair, which will be held on April 4, 2012. To date, we’ve covered why an event like this is so essential to our city, and now I’d like to introduce you to the team who is making it happen!
As I’m writing this article, we have 14 dedicated people who have been developing the 2012 event. While the planning team has varied a little from year to year, the quality of those presently involved has always been high and it has always been a pleasure to work with those involved. Although there are others on our committee who support and participate in the event, for this column I’d like to focus on the 14 people who have been integral pieces of this year’s Mayor’s Youth Job Fair puzzle.
Joe Oliveras, UEI College: Joe has been instrumental in recruiting new members of our planning team and has acquired several of the major resources including the Manchester Center event site. He has demonstrated a personal drive to see this event successfully grow and without his dedication and encouragement, it would not be at the level it is now.
Joe Oaxaca, ResCare Workforce Services: Joe is a new member on our team this year. His company is in the business of helping job seekers connect to employers, one of the major objectives of the job fair. Joe and his employer are contributing from their resources in the spirit of community service.
Dora Westerlund, Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: Dora has joined us for her second year on the planning team, contributing in many ways on a variety of occasions. She and her organization have been instrumental in our effort to rally resources. For the last few months, they have been fielding phone calls from youth for the event, securing food and beverage donations, communicating with the media, hosting meetings and more.
Yery Oliveras, Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: Yery is another new team member this year. As a young person herself, she has brought a new perspective to our team, providing insight to help us connect with her peers; something many of us “older” people have really enjoyed having.
Ralph Jacinto, Fresno County Department of Social Services: Ralph is a key player of the annual Fresno County Job Fair at the Fairgrounds. His high level of commitment has been integral to the development of the Mayor’s Youth Job Fair’s success. Although the County’s event is scheduled very close to our own, he has been dedicated to our cause over the last year while participating in our full committee which addresses issues other than the job fair.
Oralia Gomez, Fresno County Department of Social Services: Oralia has also been a boon to our committee, with exceptional participation throughout the entire year. Oralia’s commitment to the event is based in her belief that helping our young people transition to productive adult lives will lessen the demand for public assistance. Such a big picture perspective from a County employee thrills me to no end! The value of this type of understanding, not only from Oralia but from all 3 of the county service professionals on our committee, cannot be overstated!
Kandy Gonzalez, Fresno County Department of Social Services: Kandy is another first year member of our committee. She is one of our youngest members and brings a unique and youthful perspective to the event which has proven invaluable as we work to gain interest from other young people. She is a mover and shaker in recruiting employer participation for this event.
Barbara Thomas, Fresno County Office of Education: Barbara brings a wealth of experience in education and knowledge of the Fresno area schools to our committee. She has a commitment to our committee well beyond the job fair and participates in our struggles to establish ways our community can ensure a successful transition from youth life to productive adulthood for today’s kids.
Janis Parker, Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board: Janis is in her second year with our planning team. She has been instrumental in helping to establish resources at the event location and also offers a big picture perspective on the importance helping more people find productive employment to ensure they contribute to society.
Christian Wandeler, Psychologist: Christian is new with our team this year, joining the effort after hearing about our committee’s goals and following up for more information. From that point, he has jumped into the effort with both feet, expanding existing elements and exploring additional ways we can better serve the community. I believe that as much as Christian has contributed to date, he will do even more in the future!
Jon Morse, Big Picture High School: Jon is on the front lines with our demographic. He brings to the table his experience from direct involvement with high school students in an academic program that pairs students with businesses.
Velia Diaz, Employment Development Department: Velia is new with our team this year. Her expertise is in the area of planning job fairs. She brings resources and insight that helps us craft a better event.
Annette Wholaver, Employment Development Department: Annette is new with our team this year. She hit the ground running offering to help recruit employers at the first meeting she attended with us.
That brings me to number 14, me. I’m Doug Betts and I represent not only the Bill Smilie Aviation Center EAA376, but Computer Age Consulting as well (Since I have two memberships with the Chamber, so I’ll take the liberty of promoting both). I grew up in Fresnoand never wanted to live anywhere else! As with many people who plan to stay in Fresno, I believe that it is up to us now to set the City and its youth up for a successful future where we can happily settle in our twilight years. It will only be with thorough preparation that today’s youth can become tomorrow’s thriving workforce.
If you would like to help secure the future of our community through this committee please feel free to contact me through the Chamber or directly by cell phone at 559-289-8000.