Tag Archives: unemployment

Full Circle

By: Danni R. Eickenhorst, Midland Division

Marlene Brugere is finally back to work after more than three years of unemployment, following her layoff from Western Union in 2008.

“When I was first laid off,” recalls Brugere, “the interviews I had went well, and I would go home thinking ‘I got this one,’ but I’d never hear back from the employers. When the economy went belly up a few months later, the search became even harder. Suddenly, there were way more applicants than there were jobs…. I saw jobs that I was qualified for drop in pay steadily. Every 6 months, the jobs I was looking at would drop two dollars per hour and in time, I had to start considering jobs at minimum wage.”

Marlene and her son were given advance notice of their impending job losses, chose to stay at Western Union through the end of their term to take advantage of the various incentives offered by their employer for staying through until the transition was made. Given their previous job search experiences, Brugere and her son thought they would have significant enough savings to survive until they were able to find new employment.

“We prepared for a storm,” she says, “but not a hurricane.”

As the economy continued to worsen, so too did Marlene’s job prospects. “I went from September of 2010 to the summer of 2011 without getting a return call from any employer.”

In time, Marlene found that she had needs that her severance package and savings were unable to meet, and she reached out to the Salvation Army’s Gateway Worship and Community Center in South St. Louis. “When you’re in a situation like this for the first time, it’s scary to go in and ask for help. You feel like a bit of a loser, but the people I interacted with were helpful and supportive. They treated me with respect.”

As Marlene worked with social worker Mary Justvig to address her needs, she found that The Salvation Army would be able to assist her with both food and utility assistance. “Mary was able to assist me in paying for utilities. That first day, she also gave me groceries to take home also.”

In 2009, Marlene received a notice of impending disconnection from the gas company, and returned to The Salvation Army once more for help. “Mary was able to pay a portion of my balance due, and after that was arranged, I was able to make payment arrangements for the remaining balance. With that assistance, we were able to stretch what funds we had just a little bit longer. When you’re in a crisis like this, and you don’t know when it might end, it is pretty scary.”

The end of her saga finally came in September, when Marlene was offered a customer service job at the local office of a global corporation. “I feel like I won the lottery,” she says, “to have a job with potential, working for a company that can offer stability, I’m so thankful.”

Upon getting her first paycheck, Marlene vowed to give back to those who helped her. “When you go through a crisis like this, you wonder why God would let you go through something like this and it can become a crisis of faith, but organizations like The Salvation Army make the suffering bearable, showing God’s love in their work. The people I dealt with were supportive, encouraging and caring and I can’t say enough about what their help did for me.”

Upon receiving her first paycheck in September, Marlene returned to the Gateway Citadel once more, for what she hoped would be her final appointment with Mary. She brought a thank you card and a cash donation for The Salvation. “I know there are people less fortunate that are still working, and I  also knew that The Salvation Army would know who to give my donation to.”

…But what can I do?

We meet people every day that love the work we do in St. Louis, but are never quite sure where they fit in or how they can contribute to our mission and keep up with their own hectic schedules. Right now, we have a way that almost everyone can contribute and truly make a difference. Now through October 16th, you can go to www.STLGrown.com and search for “Salvation Army” and vote for us 100x every day. The top winners of the Monsanto Grown contest will receive a grant of $5K, $10K or $15K toward a program of their choice.

This year, we have chosen our job training program at our Temple Community Center, which has become critical for the unemployed in the city of St. Louis. Watch this blog over the next few weeks for profiles of the individuals we are helping through this program and others at our locations throghout St. Louis.

We thank you in advance for your vote and hope to announce our win in the coming weeks!

Alton Salvation Army helps single mother find hope after layoff and divorce

“I had this great network of people that believed in me.”

By: Sacre Ntumba and Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

Only two years ago, Amanda McDonald felt as though she was battling for her life. She was on the verge of being homeless after a layoff, enduring the hardship of divorce and feeling rejected by many in her life. Amanda’s self esteem was at an all-time low. “I felt worthless,” McDonald says simply. Amanda recalls how she felt unable to meet the challenges put before her. She was going through a separation with her then-husband and enduring all of the legal and emotional turmoil that accompany such a separation.

As she struggled to overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties, starting over in her family life and working to find a job, she became increasingly depressed and had difficulty taking the needed steps to improve her situation. When she felt she could no longer do it all on her own, she reached out for help to the Alton Salvation Army. The local community center assisted her in obtaining food and clothing for her kids, both boys who are currently five and ten years old.

To her surprise, a search for food and clothing turned into much more, because she began to receive assistance with her medical benefits, her unemployment, her kids’ activities, and a balm for her own soul as she found she had people in her corner, rooting for her success at the Alton Salvation Army. She found herself treated her with respect and love, things she had previously felt unworthy of. The support system at the Salvation Army motivated her to take the necessary steps to improve her situation, and the youth programs they had for her children helped them forget the hard times they were going through, providing them with a refuge.

The Salvation Army did more than just giving her a hand to rely on, it gave her hope; hope that would restore her spirit and make her feel like a brand new person who could achieve anything she wanted to through God. Soon after she became involved with The Salvation Army, Amanda started to look for a new job, found one, and was ultimately promoted to a managerial position. The seemingly endless blessings she saw in her life made her realize that “God never closes a door without opening another one for you,” she said, a huge smile beaming. As Amanda continued her involvement with The Salvation Army, she found herself coming alive again. “I had this great network of people that believed in me,” she recalls, and she began to take steps to address all areas of her life.

Nearly two years after the darkest period she can recall in her life, Amanda has hope. She is going back to school and plans to keep her kids in the Salvation Army’s character building programs. She volunteers her time at the community center, doing whatever she can do to help others find hope in their situations. The lesson to learn from Amanda’s story is that one can always rely on God’s mysterious, but amazing help; and all one must do to receive it, is to ask for it and accept it.

“The Bible also teaches that even while bad things are happening, good things are also trying to happen to you.” Major John R. Cheydleur

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