I have been on a tough road as far as finding employment for a while now, and as such the family that has taken me in to live with them.
It has been about 6 months since then and still no job, so I've been told by one of my family members that if I didn't get one by this May, I'd be kicked out and sent to a homeless shelter.
I'm slowly beginning to believe that may come to pass, despite my current efforts at filling out application after application. If it should truly come to that, I briefly considered overdosing on my naproxen to just end this frustration once and for all. Would it truly still be worth it to keep hope and faith alive with such a looming threat hanging over my head?
Anonymous (age 30, St. Louis, MO)
* * *
Your letter makes the bear sad. I can see why you would be depressed, but being unemployed and having an unsupportive family are not the worst things in life and certainly not worth killing yourself over. I’m sorry your family is treating you this way. If I had a family member who was in need of my help, I would welcome them into my home and try to help them for however long it took until they were back on their feet. That is what real family does. Do all of your family members feel this way? If not, talk to the ones who don’t and persuade them to be on your side on this, then team up with them to make your case with the naysayers to let you stay there for now.
It seems to me that as long as you are making a concerted effort to find work, you should be allowed to stay. If the problem is they are having a hard time with money, there are things you can do about that. If you haven’t already, you can probably pay for much of your own food by applying for government food assistance. Go here to learn more about that. Are you getting unemployment? Certainly you should be, if you are not, go here.
You can also offer to help around the house as much as possible, if you haven’t done that already. Doing chores, watching the kids, yard work, handyman projects, anything you can do like that will not only show you are supporting the family but will also save them money. Make yourself a valuable member of the family and see if that will turn things around for you.
Meanwhile, the job search. You don’t say much about your job history, how you became unemployed, etc., so I am just shooting in the dark here. Now, if the following is the case, you are in great luck: if you were laid off from any of these companies in the St. Louis area, you can get free training and employment help: Hostess, Yellow Pages, Mars, Faurecia, CPI, Energizer, ATK, Climax Packaging, Thyssen Krupp, Sanofi-Aventis, or American Italian Pasta Company. If so, go here and contact the SLATE Missouri Career Center. SLATE stands for the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment. Contact them, even if you didn’t work for any of the above, and they should be able to point you in the right direction, including career counseling and possibilities for further education, if needed.
While that’s going on, don’t forget to network. Contact and talk to every friend and relative you have, tell them what you are looking for, and see if they might give you some leads. Learn to market yourself. You can start doing so cheaply by starting a professional Facebook page (note: that’s different from your personal page), and getting some free business cards from Vistaprint.com. You can even start a very low-cost business website with such services as GoDaddy.com or Weebly.com to promote yourself.
You don’t say what your skills are, but you might try using whatever skills you have to be a freelancer like yours truly. Sometimes you don’t even have to have any particular skills, just be a hard worker and well-organized. For example, I have a friend in the valley who is a professional errand-runner. He does pretty much anything you need: fetching groceries, house sitting, pet sitting, shuttle service to the airport, getting your dry cleaning, anything you like. Yogi and I hired him to take us to the airport and then watch our house while we were in New York, for example. Depending on your resources and, again, skills, you can do most anything if you are good at marketing yourself. Here’s a helpful article on the subject.
These days, more and more people are becoming freelancers and starting businesses in their homes because they’ve been screwed over by corporate America. You could be one of those people! Er, the successful freelance type, not the screwed over type :-P
There are many possibilities for you, dear furiend, if you put your mind and energy to them. Please put dire thoughts of suicide aside. If you can’t, please seek help right away. The national suicide prevention hotline can help you online and for free—they are just a click away.
As long as there is life, there is hope. And there is hope for you. You have only been unemployed for six months. There are people out there who have been jobless for years, but they are still trying. Don’t give up and you will eventually, inevitably, find work again.
Write again, please, if you need more help.
* * *
Thank you so very much for responding to my letter. I needed someone else to talk to and you did make me feel a little better. I realized shortly after I wrote the letter that I didn't actually fully convey or be more elaborate with the details of what is going on with me currently and I'm sorry for that.
As far as my living sitaution, my two family members ( my cousins, mostly one of them ) I have a pretty tenuous relationship with stemming from the fact that she didn't want me to stay with them in the first place seeing as I'm a grown man and I'm not gravely disabled on anything. My other cousin is more laid back and was the one who convinced the other to allow me to move in with them.
I can understand where they're coming from having another person seemingly barging into their lives and a young guy no less (they're in their early 60s). One is retired and the other is still working planning her own retirement in a few more years.
I do have food stamps actually. I reapplied for them a couple months ago, I can't receive unemployment was due to the fact that I worked under a company that was non-profit. I worked at a former military record center as a custodian from Sept. 2003 to Dec. 2012. I was let go due to the fact that I had spent too long off work to care for my aunt who was suffering from cancer before she died in mid-August last year. I'm also receiving job assistance from a career placement agency.
I don't have many family members or anyone else close to me to refer to about jobs except for a couple more cousins and I dont have any other special skills yet I believe I have a decent work ethic along with considerable people skills. In the meantime, I clean the kitchen and dispose of the trash as well as straighten out my basement room and bathroom.
Sorry for the long letter here and thank you again for listening. I try to keep looking on the bright side of things.
* * *
Glad I could ease your mind a little bit. Permit me to comment a bit on your second letter because some of this may benefit my readers.
First of all, it doesn't matter whether you work for a for-profit or nonprofit company or organization. If you are fired, you can collect federal unemployment assistance. I recommend you apply for it as soon as possible. I don't know who told you that you couldn't get unemployment, but they were dead wrong.
Secondly (and, again, I don't know enough details here), in most cases, companies are legally required to try to work with you if you are caring for a terminally ill family member before they fire you. Depending on the job, they can offer you more flexible hours, the chance to work at home, or unpaid time off. Now, the law does not put too much burden on companies, if they can make a case that this would cost them too much money or they are unable to adjust staffing to accommodate you. But, some effort could have been made before firing you, I believe. Depending on circumstances, it might be worth your time to consult an attorney about this. At least, keep it in mind for future reference.
It's good you help around the house, but, seeing as you are unemployed, I suggest you do more than clean the kitchen and keep your room and bathroom clean. If it were me in your situation, I would be cleaning the entire house and yard and running errands for my hosts. You're thirty years old and they're in their sixties and one of them still works; I'm sure you have a lot more time and energy on your hands then they do, so use it to ingratiate yourself to them.
If you are lacking nearby friends and relatives for networking opportunities, try contacting former coworkers. Check the newspaper for local business gatherings. You might try--if you can afford to--joining the local chamber of commerce or other local business group. Oh, and when it comes to applying for a job, don't say, "I have a decent work ethic along with considerable people skills." Everybody says that, and it will get you nowhere fast. You need some skills, so now's the time to get some. Talk to the unemployment office or an employment agency about free or low-cost training opportunities in your area.
Glad you no longer sound suicidal!!!!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.