BIDDEFORD — At least a dozen area employers will participate in a job fair next month for job seekers who are recovering from addiction.

The unusual job fair will be held in Biddeford on June 7. Twelve companies had signed up by early last week to participate at the recovery workforce job fair, set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the event space in the Pepperell Mill, 40 Main St., and more are expected to do so.

Throughout southern Maine employers are looking for workers. With a statewide unemployment rate of 2.7 percent in April, according to the U.S Department of Labor, employees are not always easy to find.

At the same time, Maine is in the midst of an opioid addiction epidemic and people in recovery from addiction can have trouble getting hired.

State Rep. Marty Grohman, I- Biddeford, York County Sheriff Bill King and staff members at ENSO Recovery – which has treatment centers in Sanford, Portland and Westbrook – discussed the situation and how to connect employers with job seekers who have overcome addictions.

Grohman said he’d been working one on one to arrange interviews between people in recovery and prospective employers. Later, he and King toured a recovery center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which conducted job fairs and thought they could do something similar in York County.

“Employers are really looking for people, and people in recovery need this opportunity to get back on their feet,” Grohman said.

Among the prospective employers is Krispy Kreme in Saco. Doughnut shop owner Cort Mendez, who is looking to fill some openings, said he wants to make sure the relationship is a good fit. A safe environment for employees is foremost, he said, but he’s open to the prospect of hiring people who have overcome substance abuse.

“We try to help the community as much as we can,” said Mendez. “People run into challenges in life, and if they’ve re-evaluated mistakes they may have made, and they’re responsible, and we can help get them get their feet under them, we’re all for it.”

“One barrier to a successful recovery is housing and another barrier is meaningful employment,” said King. “I’ve spoken to enough inmates to know there is frustration, and often there is an unexplained gap in employment. This way, the employer knows there is a gap, because of incarceration or long-term recovery, … so this takes all that anxiety off the table.”

A clothes closet will be available for job seekers from 8 to 10 a.m. that day, said King. Free haircuts will also be available that day to job seekers at Tulu Salon & Spa, located at the Pepperell Mill, salon owner Terra Johnson said.

The job fair portion of the event is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Grohman said a class for employers is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. It is designed to address anxiety about hiring those in recovery, and the “dos and don’ts” of the process.

Among the dozen employers scheduled to be at the job fair are Spongee, Paradigm Windows, Lucas Tree, H & R Block and NECS Staffing – and there is room for a few more – Grohman said. Shuttlebus Zoom will be on hand to offer information to job seekers about how to get to and from work, he said.

“I feel like we’ll make some connections and get some people hired in some good jobs,” said Grohman. “That’s a key step together with many other elements of recovery.”

Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444, at 282-1535, ext. 327, or at:

[email protected]

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