Need info on employment, immigration, cleaning criminal records? This conference will offer a multitude of resources

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

From how to find employment and healthcare to how to help clean up a criminal record, a variety of topics will be covered Thursday night at the Port Arthur United for Change Multicultural Conference.

And the hope, said event co-organizer Zulema Escobedo, is to bring people to the programs and assistance they might not have otherwise known are available.

“One day we were talking and said, ‘how can we show the community we actually care?’” Escobedo said about Port Arthur United. “All of these programs people hear about but don’t know where to go. I didn’t know we had two drug rehab programs in this area. When someone would ask me about one, I would go to Google and send them to Galveston.”

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The event, which is from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, brings attendees in front of approximately a dozen different organizations.

Alysha Hill, liaison for Texas Workforce in Port Arthur, said they would be in attendance in hopes of educating the public on a variety of programs available at no cost.

“We can put them in school to learn to get the skill sets for a (commercial driver’s license), bookkeeping, carpentry, and we can fund it,” she said. “You do have to be eligible for the program. But that’s basically what Workforce does — things the community may not know about.”

Workforce will also touch on free general education diploma and English as a second language classes, as well as free childcare for employees.

The list of speakers also includes Fabiana Baum with the Provost Umphrey Law Firm, who will speak on immigration programs and changes.

Christina Martinez will be on hand to educate about Obamacare and Medicare, specifically benefits recipients may qualify and be unaware of.

Levy Barnes will speak on incentives for those seeking to purchase personal or investment properties.

“A lot of people don’t know the City of Port Arthur provides anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 for a down payment on a house,” Escobedo said.

Jozette Rubin with Affordable Connectivity Program will have information on how to obtain free tablets.

Author Harry Abrams will speak on mental health and available resources. Port Commissioner Linda Spears will speak on youth summer camps and maritime job opportunities.

Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam will explain if and how misdemeanors and felonies can be removed from a person’s record. And Shanelle Lawson from Lamar State College Port Arthur will explain how to obtain scholarships.

“With my daughters, I never understood why they only got small scholarships and someone else had their whole education paid for,” Escobedo said. “Lamar State College will be talking about how to apply for those scholarships.”

The keynote speaker will be multimillionaire Nate Auffort, a friend of Escobedo’s who resides in Dallas.

“He was in a very bad situation seven years ago,” she said, noting he was able to turn his life around in a short amount of time. So she called and asked him to speak, explaining the nonprofit would not be able to pay him for his time or travel expenses.

“He saw the vision and said, ‘I’m going to do it. I love to give back and this is a great thing y’all are doing,’” she said. “It’s come together so amazingly. We are hoping word gets out to everyone.”