Helping ex-offenders get back into the workforce is one of Venessa Edmonds' goals each day at the Decatur Career Center.
She hopes a free diversity summit from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the Turner-Surles Community Resource Center will help them find jobs.
The annual summit, hosted by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, provides career and business resources to residents based on area need.
Edmonds, a career specialist who is organizing the event, said job assistance for ex-offenders is critical within the community.
"People make mistakes and they serve their time, but society many times is not very forgiving," she said. "They already have obstacles to overcome because of their record, and when they can't find employment, it makes it very difficult for them to be self-sufficient."
The summit also will offer information on the hiring process, job search, paying for college, work release, small businesses, leadership, job strategies for veterans and more.
The summit will precede the 10th annual diversity awards event at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Holiday Inn of Decatur with keynote speaker Gwen Boyd. Boyd, an Alabama State University and Yale graduate, is an engineer for Johns Hopkins University.
Edmonds said Boyd will interact with summit attendees and Brookhaven Middle School students before speaking at the awards banquet.
"Our hope is that if the kids there see someone with a similar background and how much she has accomplished, that will serve as an incentive for them," she said.
The chamber will present community service, longevity, perseverance and Venessa Edmonds Champion of Diversity awards at the banquet.
The winners were selected by the diversity development committee at the chamber.
Chamber President John Seymour said the event has become a tradition during the last decade that draws up to 400 attendees each year within the local business community.
"The chamber traditionally was all white guys," he said. "We're not that now. We want to emphasize that we're an inclusive community and an inclusive chamber."
Banquet tickets are $30 and can be reserved by contacting Taylor Simmons at 256-353-5312.
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