Girard College hosted more than 5,000 volunteers for the 22nd annual Day of Service and Jobs Fair, as part of the largest Martin Luther King service gathering in the country.
The event took place in the Armory of the historic school that was once a target of Martin Luther King Jr’s campaign for racial equality. At the time of King’s actions in Philadelphia, Girard College did not accept students of color.
Mayor Jim Kenney and the city’s fire commissioner Adam Thiel worked alongside kids to build bookshelves to furnish mini children’s libraries for places such as doctor offices or barber shops. Commissioner Thiel, however, finished his project alone. “The kids had to leave early,” shrugged Thiel, “They had dentist appointments.”
The hall was packed, busy with organized chaos that catered to a variety of community needs. Employees from businesses like Target and Villa, as well as church delegations from all over the city, organized food and clothing drives for homeless shelters and Philabundance.
Brea, a 7th grader, helped out at a science booth for kids, with experiments that illustrated physical and chemical changes. She says she enjoys science, but isn’t sure she sees herself pursuing a career in the field.
“You don’t really see like Black women as a scientists. You usually see like light skinned women and men,” she said.
Downstairs, at the jobs and opportunity fair, 30 employers handed out information to over 500 prospective employees.
Dan Amspacher, SEPTA’s recruitment director, says that even though all applications are processed online, meeting face-to-face is a great way for SEPTA to connect with potential hires
“The thing you’ve got to remember is that a lot of these people are our customers. And we want our employee base to reflect the customers we serve. So that’s why we do so much outreach into the community,” he said.