- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
“Our mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts of valor,” Jo Garvin, from the Quilts of Valor Foundation, said to the quieted crowd.
Garvin spoke in front of exhibitors, employers, and veterans who filled the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg recently for the fifth annual Veterans’ Expo & Job Fair – Capital Area.
Garvin presented a Quilt of Valor to Harrisburg-area resident and Vietnam veteran Rev. Dwight Edwards, who served with a recon platoon in the U.S. Army from 1965-66.
Crafted by the Middletown PieceMakers Quilt Guild, the quilt is a lifetime award bestowed upon deserving veterans and active service members for their service to the nation.
Following his service, Edwards became a teacher, probation officer, and talk show host, all in the Philadelphia area, before earning his Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary and pastoring several African Methodist Episcopal churches in central Pennsylvania.
The tribute was a fitting inclusion to the Veterans’ Expo & Job Fair, a free-admission event hosted by OLP Events with the goal of connecting veterans, transitioning military, and their families to benefits, resources, and job opportunities.
At the Job Fair, veterans and employers met face-to-face to discuss available positions.
“I’m looking for a job where I would end up being able to … develop my education so that I have a skill set that’s necessary for the company that hires me,” said a job-seeking Army veteran.
Company representatives were looking to fill openings in sales, labor, management, tech, medical services, transportation, clerical, manufacturing, engineering, construction, retail, financial services, and more.
Students from Barber Styling Institute helped interested attendees look their best for a job interview by providing free haircuts.
George Wollard, human resources manager for Carlisle Construction Materials — the event’s visitor bag sponsor — is himself a Marine veteran.
“So I know the work ethic you get from returning service people. They’re used to working long hours, hard jobs,” Wollard said.
“They’ve matured in two, three, four years [of service]. So a 22-year-old person who comes back is much different from a 22-year-old person that has not been in the service — the discipline, the work ethic.”
The Job Fair’s Resource Center provided information for translating military careers to civilian opportunities. George Dillman, investor education coordinator for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, discussed financial services and planning.
Also available in the Resource Center were Donald Poligone, economic development analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, who offered small-business counseling; and representatives from the Lebanon VA Medical Center were on hand with information on veteran benefits and resources.
Veteran Aaron Morano, of Enola, had recently moved to central Pennsylvania from North Carolina.
“I’m looking for computer/IT or maybe light manufacturing [positions], something to actually start paying the bills and get me established in the area,” Morano said.
The Veterans Expo & Job Fair will return to Lancaster County Thursday, Nov. 1, at the Farm and Home Center, 1383 Arcadia Road, Lancaster.
For more information, call (717) 285-1350 or visit www.veteransexpo.com.