Resource, education fair at PDCCC today

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

FRANKLIN—An event designed to help International Paper Co. employees and their families will be held this week at the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center.

“The Community Resource and Education Fair” will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. today. The event is open to the public, not just IP employees, and is being run by Opportunity Inc. of Hampton Roads, a regional workforce organization based in Norfolk.

“We have 52 both education and non-profit service providers who are going to be there,” Judy Begland, president and CEO of Opportunity Inc., said Monday. “It’s open to everyone in the community that might have a need for services or support during these economic times.”

Non-profit service providers specializing in health care, personal and family issues, budget and mortgage counseling, small business start-ups and education and training will be in attendance.

“There was a survey done of (IP) employees in November that identified what some of their needs were,” Begland said. “Out of that came this resource fair to address many of those needs that were not necessarily specific to re-employment. It is typical in these kinds of circumstances that there are a lot of support questions, and a lot of looking for services that they have never looked for before.”

Beth Reavis, who serves as the director of Franklin Department of Social Services and also chairs the Western Tidewater Coalition, said the coalition came together shortly after IP announced that in October that the company would close the Franklin mill this year.

“We knew that a lot of people would find themselves needing services,” Reavis said Tuesday. “Some of our biggest supporters could be finding themselves in need now or maybe a year from now. We want to inform the public about what services are available and to help make the transition from an IP economy to another economy as smooth as possible.”

Franklin Mayor Jim Councill, Isle of Wight County Board Chairman Phillip Bradshaw and Southampton County Board Chairman Dallas Jones collaborated on an opening message in the program bulletin for today’s event.

“We want you to know that your leaders are working hard to secure our future as a region,” the message stated. “Ensuring the strong economic health of our region is our job. Your job is to do your best to take care of yourself and your family. Take advantages of the programs and services here today. Tap into resources and learn about educational opportunities that are available to you to advance your career and your earning power.”

They added, “We’re all in this together and we need each other. We have been there for each other in the past, pulling one another through the tough times, lending a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to listen and we will be there for one another going forward.”