Unemployed come together in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

Unemployed come together in Vail Valley

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-Cindy Fischer and her husband owned more than $1 million in real estate a year ago ” now the Vail Valley, Colorado couple has nothing.

They’ve turned to food stamps and Medicaid, something Cindy Fischer never imagined she’d need. She’s happy she had somewhere to go, though. Public assistance has saved her family.

“I wish I had done it sooner, but I just felt ashamed,” she said. “I just didn’t think we’d qualify because we made so much money before.”

Fischer was one of 12 people who showed up for the first meeting for the unemployed called “Strategies for Your Future,” hosted by the Salvation Army, the Samaritan Center of the Rockies and Constance Harvey, a local woman who lost her job in January.

Harvey and April Wilson, a counselor from the Samaritan Center, asked the group what they were looking for out of the meeting ” did they need help with resumes, help networking, information on how to get public help like food stamps or health insurance?

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Wilson went around the room asking people about their stories. Some are completely broke, others have part-time work that isn’t cutting it ” everyone has a little hope, although some are on the verge of losing it.

Wilson, Harvey, Elizabeth Myers and Tsu Wolin-Brown, executive directors of the Samaritan Center and the Vail Valley Salvation Army respectively, plan to meet Thursday to talk about what next Tuesday’s meeting should focus on. The women want to bring in speakers to the free meetings that would help people with different skills. From perfecting resumes to figuring out how to file for public assistance, the group is meant to help the local unemployed or underemployed find ways to turn their lives around.

“Don’t give up hope,” Harvey said. “You’re just in a state of change.”

Many unemployed locals are qualified and skilled for many jobs ” everyone at the meeting had extensive backgrounds in their respective fields ” but the jobs just aren’t there. Steve Vincent has been in the Vail Valley for 35 years and has never seen anything like it.

“There’s just nothing there (in terms of work),” he said.

It’s easy to get down on yourself and want to give up hope, but this is the time when people need to start thinking about other options, Harvey said. The industries that are thriving are changing, and people have to adapt and take charge of their lives, she said.

One way Wilson tried to help everyone at the meeting was by giving them a simple test. She asked everyone to list their top 10 values in life in order of their importance. She said it’s one easy way to try to figure out which jobs are best for certain people.

“Have you ever dealt with someone who works in human resources who just hates people, and it’s obvious they hate people?” Wilson said. “If you show you have the passion for whatever it is you’re getting into, that’s what’s going to sell.”

The economy has changed people’s priorities, Fischer said. While she used to enjoy having a lot of money, now she just wants to make sure she can feed and clothe her children and pay for their kindergarten, she said.

Next Tuesday’s meeting will have more focus after the meeting hosts heard what it is people are looking for. The overwhelming theme of the meeting was networking ” people just want to share ideas and figure out where they can find work.

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