Brownsville job seekers express optimism

Commissioner Monestime hosts needed job fair

Carla St.Louis | 2/6/2014, 9 a.m.
For the past two years, Brownsville resident Kenneth Rozier has remained financially afloat by working odd jobs in tiling and ...
Commissioner Jean Monestime and a group of job seekers from the Northside Transit Village Job Fair. Left to right: Sammy Jameson, Jacqueline Joseph, Tarod Symonette, Commissioner Jean Monestime, Derisee Francois and Abdul Gaskin. —Photo courtesy of Commissioner Monestime

For the past two years, Brownsville resident Kenneth Rozier has remained financially afloat by working odd jobs in tiling and carpentry for friends & family members.

A 29-year old with a criminal background for possession of firearm, Rozier views his conviction as a barrier to him obtaining employment.

“I made a mistake — and alot of people make mistakes in their past and they try to do better but [I] can’t because of it,” he said.

His frustration with the job market is what led him to Northside Transit Village Job Fair, a job fair with openings in construction and property management that’s expected to bring “dozens” of jobs to Brownsville.

Hosted by Commissioner Jean Monestime, it's an extension of his 2010 campaign to bring economic development to District 2. Another fruition of his campaign includes a brand new Wal-Mart located in Brownsville that’s estimated to bring 300 jobs.

“The purpose of this job fair is to offer opportunities to our people in the community to work and to create business opportunities with small businesses,” Commissioner Monestime said.

Monestime spoke about job creation relating it to economic development.

“Wal-Mart has always wanted to come here but they were unable to find the appropriate channel to help foster such a development,” he said. “I came in and negotiated it. As a policy maker, I wanted [Wal-Mart representatives] to understand that they are here to create jobs and serve the community. All of this is in line with my vision. There’s a desire to see big chain stores welcomed into District 2, and whatever needs to be done to assist with that goal I am here to help.”

Monestime spoke about future jobs saying, “Our landmark development out of Westview will create at least 3,500 jobs.”

Convicts stigmatized for criminal background

Held on the corner of NW 32nd Avenue and NW 77th Street, the prospect of rain couldn't deter the jobless from attending. Within an hour of it's 12 pm start time, the venue attracted thirty attendees, many of whom were referred to it by Pastor Carl Johnson of 93rd Street Community Baptist Church.

“Dr. Carl Johnson from 93rd Baptist Church sent me here," said Sammy Jameson, a Columbus, Ohio transplant with "over 25 years of experience in remodeling homes. "I’m a member of his church.

The job fair attracted a small number of job seekers with criminal backgrounds, many who were frustrated with employers in Miami-Dade County.

“The community needs two things: more job fairs and employers who are [empathetic] to people with criminal backgrounds — especially those that want to better themselves,” said Rozier, who earned a certification in landscaping from Bay Point School located in Princeton, Florida.

South Florida native Abdul Gaskin, who also has a criminal background, echoed Rozier's comment.

“I believe everyone deserves a chance to work," he said. "We are all human and subject to make mistakes. People can change their situation if they’re are given an opportunity.”

In 2002, he was convicted of trafficking narcotics. After serving his time, Gaskin found it difficult to obtain work in Miami-Dade County and eventually found work in Broward County.