PORTSMOUTH - About a thousand people waited in line Thursday for a job fair for ex-felons.

Dubbed a fair for 'returning citizens,' the five-hour event was designed to help men and women who've served their time and are ready to return to the workforce.

Pastor Richie Sessoms of Mount Sinai Church says he was motivated to organize this job fair because of the need to give ex-felons a second chance.

Cedric Brown appreciates the opportunity. He says he's tried to get a job several times since his release from prison in 2010. He served seven years for crimes including shooting into a vehicle, malicious wounding and other firearm offenses.

The Second Chancesorganization in Norfolk says more than a dozen companies were expected, but only four companies had representatives on site - Rally's, NSC Technologies, BAE Systems, and IHOP.

For the other companies, like Walmart, applicants were told to apply online at one of the six computers.

Pastor Sessoms acknowledged it's difficult to get some companies to physically show up because they don't want it known that they hire former felons.

Resource groups like the Va. Department of Labor were there to sign people up for training to learn skills like how to interview for jobs.

The fair is at Mount Sinai Church Vision Center, 900 Portsmouth Blvd., and it runs until 2:00 p.m.

The job fair was sponsored byVirginia CURE.a volunteer, non-profit organization with a focus on the Virginia criminal justice and prison systems, and the people whose lives are impacted by those systems.

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