For nearly three years, Ella Callaway has traveled 75 miles, each way, to work.
The 34-year-old wife and mother of four drives from her home in Hagerstown to Nestle Ice Cream in Laurel, Md., six days a week. She has been hoping for a good job closer to home, but despite an ongoing job search, hasn’t found one.
After a job fair Saturday at Dot Foods Inc. in Williamsport, she is hoping that might change.
Dot, the leading food redistributor in the nation, hosted the fair to help fill more than 50 full-time and part-time positions at its Williamsport warehouse.
“As far as traveling and everything like that, it would be a lot easier on me,” Callaway said. “My family would be a lot happier because right now, I don’t really have a lot of time.”
Callaway’s husband is legally blind, she said, so she works to support her family. She would earn less at Dot than she does at her current job. But when she factors in money she spends on gas to commute, the pay cut would be worth it.
“I hope it works out because I need it,” Callaway said.
Williamsport General Manager Brian Duffield said job openings were due to growth and turnover. He estimated that about 175 job seekers attended the fair.
Applicants entered a tent pitched near the distribution center for a brief screening. Those who passed minimum standards — a high school diploma or GED, willingness to work weekends and ability to lift 60-plus pounds — entered the building to watch a video about Dot. Many completed applications and met with company representatives. Duffield said some applicants would be interviewed in the next couple of weeks.
Robert Turner Jr., 43, of Hagerstown, last found work through a temporary employment agency. Now, he’s been unable to find work for a couple of months, he said.
“Being unemployed, work here is definitely something I would love to have,” Turner said. “I’m single and my family helps me out, but you don’t want that too long.”
Jason Hansen, 18, of Martinsburg, W.Va., will graduate from high school next month. Hansen said it’s a tough time to enter the work force but that college is not for him.
“It’s pretty hard to find a job in this economy, but you just gotta keep on looking,” he said.
Tim Hamilton, 20, moved to Hagerstown from Anne Arundel County., Md., in January.
“I thought there would be better work, better people, keep myself out of trouble,” he said. “From what it looks like, it was a smart move.”
Hamilton met with Dot staff at a career fair Friday at Hagerstown Community College. He got information about Saturday’s fair, and left there with an interview scheduled.
“Hopefully, I can get the job. These are nice people. They treat you like family,” he said.
In contrast to Hansen and Hamilton, who are just beginning their careers, Mark Baker, 46, of Greencastle, Pa., has 12 years of warehouse experience. Baker lost his job at Ingersoll Rand in Shippensburg, Pa., about nine months ago, he said. His wife’s job has been sustaining the couple and their children while he seeks work.
“It’s very hard nowadays to find work that pays a good salary to take care of three kids, and a family, and a household,” he said.
Baker said he is uncertain whether the economy is improving, but he remains optimistic.
Editor's note: This story was edited April 2, 2012, to correct the lifting requirement in the ninth paragraph to 60 pounds.