By Valerie Baldowski
Cars lined both sides of the street near McDonough Presbyterian Church, where men and women from all walks of life came looking for the same thing -- a job.
The church, located at 427 McGarity Road, was the site of the City of McDonough's annual job fair on Friday. The event was held in the church's gymnasium, where employers were seated at tables lining the room, armed with job applications, and information from at least 28 companies.
When the doors opened at 10 a.m. to admit the first wave of job-seekers, dozens filed in, said Leslie Balog, assistant to McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland, and the organizer of the event. "We had, in the first 20 minutes, 300 people come through," said Balog.
John-Alex Mode, 33, of McDonough, was one of them.
Mode was seated at a table filling out a job application, with his 2-year-old son at his side.
"I came here to find a job, to support my family," said Mode, who also has 4-year-old son. He previously worked as a security guard, and has been unemployed since June.
"I'm not doing anything right now," Mode said. "I'm still looking for a job...only my wife is working."
Daniel Devitt, 43, of Locust Grove, came to the event dressed in a suit and tie. Devitt said he is searching for a better job opportunity.
"I'm not unemployed, I have two part-time jobs. I'm looking for what I call a real full-time job," Devitt said. "I figured it would be a good idea to come out here, and see what they had to offer."
Devitt works part-time in a retail environment, and part-time as a restaurant server. He wants a management position "at a company that will allow me to grow with them."
Devitt said he would accept any position that would help him pay his monthly expenses. If he fails to turn up any leads at the job fair, he said his strategy will be "to keep trying, [with] networking the job boards on the Internet."
Community response to the job fair has been strong every year, said Balog.
"This is our third year, and the response has been the same every year, a tremendous turnout, a lot of positive feedback from both the companies that are here, and the people that are here looking for jobs," she said. "Every year, there's a line. We open the doors at 10 a.m., and they start showing up by 8 a.m."
Balog said the fair was a way to link job-seekers with companies.
"This is one of the initiatives that Mayor Copeland wanted to put together," she added. "...He thought it was important for our community [and] for our workforce who are looking for jobs, as well as for our local businesses who are looking for good workers."
Jamie Easterwood, 30, of Ellenwood, stopped at the Henry Medical Center table to talk briefly with the hospital recruiters. She held her 14-month-old son with one arm, as she picked up an application, before moving on.
Easterwood said she was a pharmacy technician for eight years before losing her job, and has been out of work for a year. She said she would accept "anything right now, at this point, anything! Christmas is coming up."
David McKee, 59, of Stockbridge, chatted with recruiters at the Primerica Financial Services table. McKee, a five year employee with Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, was a teacher at the school when his position was eliminated just over a year ago.
McKee said he will accept any type of suitable employment offer.
"Something, certainly, would help serve the family, something that would exercise your talents and your gifts," he said. "At this point, probably most people are not necessarily choosy. It just depends on what's available."