Parenting and Family Life

I Survived Unemployment, Thanks To Benefits

Unemployed
Pawel Gaul/iStock Photography

Disheartening.

That’s a word I know all too well.

Discouragement is another one.

Both words describe the endless ponderings of unemployment for me.

It’s easy to say things like “just get a job” or “wow, you must be lazy”. Both statements I’ve heard or read from someone with a weekly or monthly paycheck in the bank. Can we just show people compassion? I know I can – now, more than ever, after exhausting State and four tiers of Federal unemployment benefits.

In 2007, I was laid off with six months severance pay. At the time, jobs were available so during my severance period, I decided to have a go at running a home business. I put our savings into starting this business, which was going to supply garage cabinets and flooring to that growing segment of the housing industry. As we prepared to launch this new venture in late 2007, that industry was turned upside down.

It put a halt to everything I had set up.

It was pointless working with builders who were just trying to get people to qualify for base priced housing, without upgrades.

“Yes Mr. Walker you qualify for unemployment benefits,” said the woman on the phone. Well, at least we’ll have an income of sorts, I thought. So, now it was time to get my resume out. I had already polished it after losing my telecom job.  Time to get the applications rolling! And so I did. I tried every field I had expertise in.

I waited. Not even one phone call.

The standard “thanks for applying” emails streamed in. They were quickly followed by the standard “you were not chosen for this position” responses.

The Walker family

The Walkers pose for a family photo. Left to right: David, Trevor, Tyler, Ryan, Bistro (the dog) and wife Andrea. Family photo hide caption

itoggle caption Family photo

During this time, I started a web page for retail sales of closet components. It was all I could do to pay the monthly internet expenses. Just enough orders came in to keep it alive and I often thought about just giving up on it.

The job applications continued. I was now referred by friends to their bosses for warehouse jobs. I would apply. No response. Follow-up doesn’t bear fruit.

This continued for two years. With my unemployment benefits set to expire in June of 2010, I was not sure what to do. It was April so I had a little bit of time but I was mildly apprehensive about the future.

In some miraculous way – as only God can do – I started receiving internet orders. Not just a few, but enough to cover the loss of unemployment. The internet site that I worked long and late hours on, was producing income. I was still skeptical for a couple of months but today, it’s paying the mortgage and car payments we fought to have restructured.

The word I’ve had to embrace: content. I’m happy I own my own business and thankful for the months of unemployment benefits that was given to me. It got us through. It’s now exhausted. I understand.

And I am more compassionate than ever!

David Walker is an entrepreneur based in Battle Ground, Washington.

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