By Bridgett Hernandez
Whitley County businesses and organizations welcomed new residents at a resource and job fair at Coesse Elementary School Feb. 12.
In January, local officials announced that Zimmer Biomet is transferring 45 employees and their families from its facility in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, to the company’s headquarters in Warsaw. The Puerto Rico facility sustained damage from Hurricane Maria. Due to a housing shortage in Warsaw, these families are making Whitley County home.
More than 60 employers and other organizations were represented at the job fair, according to Jennifer Romano, executive director of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. Translators were also present to provide language assistance when needed.
Romano is spearheading efforts to welcome the new residents. So many employers and other organizations were eager to participate in the resource and job fair that she had to turn some away because there was limited space in the school’s gymnasium.
Surrounding communities also expressed interest but, at least initially, the focus is on businesses and resources in Whitley County, Romano said.
The booths included representatives from various local businesses, city utilities, Whitley County school corporations, the Catholic archdiocese, health care providers and counseling services.
Several employers had booths with representatives to talk to the Zimmer Biomet employees’ spouses and other family members who might be looking for employment. These included medical device manufacturers Fort Wayne Metals and Micropulse.
Home Nursing Services and Angel Corps, sister companies which connect caregivers to clients across northeast Indiana, also had a booth to recruit potential employees. The companies are hiring home health aides, certified nursing assistants, attendants and nurses.
Historically, it has been challenging to match clients with caregivers in Whitley County, said Human Resource Director Gina Yonkman. When she heard that the area was receiving an infusion of new residents, she was excited about the prospect of hiring more local caregivers.
“It’s best to have caregivers who live in the same area as clients,” especially during northeast Indiana winters, when driving conditions aren’t always optimal, she said.
Yonkman wants the new residents and anyone else who might be interested in applying that the companies offer flexible hours, including short visits and day, evening and night shifts to help clients in their homes.
The Peabody Public Library also had a booth at the resource fair. Circulation supervisor Darla Lepley wants the new residents to know about all of the services and programming the library offers.
“We want them to feel welcome and to know that we’re more than books – we’re a social hub,” she said.
Anna Richey added that people don’t have to have a library card or be in the library’s service area to take advantage of everything the library has to offer.
The library offers discounted student library cards to students of Whitley County Consolidated School district who are not in the library’s service area. The cards are $5.
The library also offers a free English language workshop 6:15 p.m. each Tuesday. Richey, who holds a certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages, leads the 45-minute workshop/tutoring session. The lesson is designed for adults, but mature children and teens are also welcome. For more information, please email Richey at firstname.lastname@example.org.