KINGMAN - Anyone feeling skeptical about whether or not the weekly job fairs at Cerbat Lanes bowling alley can actually get them a job need look no further than Connie Shelley.
Shelley, a former office manager, was laid off from her job at a local air conditioning company last month alongside her husband, Keith.
"He was an HVAC service technician and I pretty much ran the office," she said. "It was just the two of us up here."
Shelley said she found out about the job fair through an acquaintance, and she and her husband decided to give it a shot. They showed up at Cerbat Lanes on March 10, and were impressed with the amount of information and employers present.
"I thought it was very well done, everyone was very helpful and informative," she said.
One of the event coordinators led her to a table where the Hualapai Lodge was hiring full-time employees for its new call center in Peach Springs. Shelley said she happened to have a resume handy, so she dropped it off and filled out the application paperwork.
"I got a call the next day to come out and do an interview," she said. "When they called me back they said 'We're really interested in you and your informational skills,' and they decided to offer me two dollars an hour more than the posting was for. I'll actually be making a little more than I was before."
It's stories like that that keep Cerbat Lanes' Assistant Manager Yvonne Davis feeling like she's walking on air when she gets home every Wednesday. With six weeks down and six more to go, the job fairs in Kingman and at Havasu Lanes in Lake Havasu City have put 220 people back to work, with the bulk of those jobs in Kingman.
"I think it's been a great success in every direction," she said. "I'm being told by our committee about the positive spin its put on the city. It's definitely put a little more hope out there, I think, that there are jobs to be found."
Davis said many of the newly-hired have returned to Cerbat Lanes in order to shake her hand, or in some cases, give her a bear hug. She said the experience has shown her that there's a lot more at stake in the current economy than mere employment.
"They're just happy to be working again, having a place to go, to be. There's so much more to having a job than just getting a paycheck," she said. "The ones that get me the most are the people who just got interviews from it, they've come in and shaken my hand, just for the chance to speak face-to-face to a person and not sit at a computer and fill out another application."
Shelley's noted that her husband has yet to find work through the fair, but he's feeling more hopeful than he was before, thanks in no small part to the coordinators' frequent reminders that new job openings are just around the corner, and new employers are in each week.
"They day we went in some of the employers were telling us, 'Look, there isn't anything now that works with your skills, but there are upcoming jobs, be watching because we know something's coming,'" she said.
As for Shelley herself, she's just happy to be preparing for what she hopes will be a long, fruitful career. "I'm excited to start this new season of my life, and I'm looking forward to working with the Hualapai people," she said.
Cerbat Lanes' job fairs continue each Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 3631 Stockton Hill Road. For more information, call (928) 692-1818.