'Tell Me More' Update: Semi-Happy Ending To A Prolonged Job Search

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Tell Me More checks back with some of the year’s most interesting guests. Host Michel Martin begins by talking to Washington, DC resident Bobbie Brinegar (like vinegar), about her long struggle to find a job. Brinegar says she’s finally found some work, albeit part-time and without benefits.


I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

In a few minutes: Back Talk, where you weigh in on what we've had to say. That's in just a few minutes.

But first, before the year ends, we wanted to stop and revisit some of the most interesting people and stories we've covered throughout the year. Of course, the recession has been at the top of the news and we've been checking in with a number of people about their experiences getting through these tough economic times.

We started speaking with Bobbie Brinegar back in June about her struggle to find employment as an older worker. Bobby is in her 50s in an unpromising job market. Older workers are less likely to be unemployed. But when they do lose their jobs, it is taking them much longer than younger workers to find another. So, we decided to check in once again with Bobbie. Bobbie, welcome back. Happy holidays to you.

Ms. BOBBIE BRINEGAR: Thanks. Same to you, Michel.

MARTIN: We last checked in with you in September. By that time, you've been looking for work for close to a year. You estimated, you'd applied for something like 500 jobs.

Ms. BRINEGAR: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: Any good news?

Ms. BRINEGAR: Well, I've found part-time work at the Kennedy Center, which has been wonderful. And so, I'm working mainly on the weekends. And - but no appropriate full-time opportunities yet.

MARTIN: And when you say part-time, how part-time?

Ms. BRINEGAR: Well, it will be up to about 30 hours. But right now, I'm still on probation. So, it's more limited than that.

MARTIN: So, no benefits, no health insurance.

Ms. BRINEGAR: No, no.

MARTIN: Just a welcome pay check.

Ms. BRINEGAR: Right, certainly.

MARTIN: So, remind everybody what kind of work you do?

Ms. BRINEGAR: Well, my training is in social work. I have my masters in social work. But I've done a lot of development. And, for example, developed three clinics, community-based clinics in South Florida for people that don't have health insurance. And I've done a lot of partnership building, coalition building, fundraising that type of thing.

MARTIN: So, again, Bobbie, every time we've spoken to you, you seem so upbeat...

Ms. BRINEGAR: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: ...and positive. How did you pull that off?

Ms. BRINEGAR: Well, I have a lot of faith. And I get up at five o'clock every morning and join a prayer line with some church friends of mine in Miami. And so, that's, I think, a really important aspect of it. And I think that there are really wonderful benefits to having to sort of reach deeply into yourself for, you know, reserves. And so, for example, I wouldn't be working at the Kennedy Center and I've been volunteering at the White House and I have been meeting people that I ordinarily wouldn't have met and having good experiences. And so...

MARTIN: I know you came in Washington in part because you wanted to be kind of part of the scene here.

Ms. BRINEGAR: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: And I'm wondering if you still feel optimistic about that country, not just about yourself, but about the direction the country is going?

Ms. BRINEGAR: Sure. I think now that the president and the administration has promised to focus more on job creation and that issue, I feel hopeful that there will be more opportunities in 2010.

MARTIN: Well, good luck to you.

Ms. BRINEGAR: Well, thank you very much.

MARTIN: Keep in touch. We keep a good thought for you always.

Ms. BRINEGAR: Okay. Thank you so much. Bye.

MARTIN: Thank you. Now, get to work.


MARTIN: Bobbie Brinegar was kind enough to join us here in our Washington, D.C. studios. Bobbie, thanks again.

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