Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

Walking but Broken

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

After a dental hygienist from Connecticut rammed her car into a White House barricade earlier this month and joined a growing list of bizarre attacks by those suffering from mental illness, people have become increasingly aware of the need for access to mental health services.

“It’s really the instability of the world that’s shaking up people that used to have been able to keep soldiering on,” Maria Droste Counseling Services Executive Director Betsy Selman Babinecz tells Msgr. Kevin Sullivan during this recent episode on JustLove.

For decades, Maria Droste Counseling Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, has provided thousands of clients from the New York metropolitan area with affordable mental health care, Ms. Babinecz says.

Sponsored by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the agency is named for Maria Droste (1863-1899), a Good Shepherd Sister known for her ability to console those who came to her in pain.  Services are provided to individuals (adolescents and adults), couples, and groups experiencing a range of social/emotional stresses due to troubled personal or family experiences, impoverishment or unemployment.

“More and more people are coming in just feeling on edge, keyed up, and not quite sure where their lives are going,” Ms. Babinecz says. “Everybody is walking around with some kind of brokenness.”

Dr. Kenneth Pargament, Psychology professor at Bowling Green State University, joins the conversation, defining what constitutes a mental illness and why its repercussions can affect all of us.

Listen and learn more in this recent episode of JustLove on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Click here  to contact Maria Droste Counseling Services.

A House of Widows and Orphans

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

The widow of a Marine Corps veteran, Tanya Thomas knows firsthand about pain and loss.  Now as the first graduate of Grace Institute’s training program for female veterans and their families — and after landing a job at Catholic Charities — she knows firsthand about success.

Tanya stands among a growing number of female veterans and military spouses who took a disproportionate hit during the Great Recession and battle homelessness and unemployment.  The jobless rate for female Gulf-War era veterans has been stuck at nearly 13 percent for the past two years, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I can’t begin to say what a gift going to Grace and getting a job like this is,” Tanya said.  “It’s helping me build my future.”

When her children were ages two and four, her husband, U.S. Marine Dwight Anthony Thomas, developed a blood clot in his brain that ultimately killed him.

“I couldn’t get out of bed after he died,” she said.  “It’s been a long road back to enjoying life.”

Then, when cancer claimed the life of Tanya’s aunt, Tanya took on the responsibility of caring for her aunt’s two teenage children as well.

“We were basically a house of widows and orphans,” Tanya said.

Fortunately Tanya found out about Grace Institute’s new program for female veterans and their families.  The program, supported in part by the Clinton Global Initiative, is designed to hone the work skills of this underserved population and help them find work.

“Our commitment to helping veterans, never ends” says Jolene Varley Handy, a Senior Director at Catholic Charities affiliate Grace Institute, “because their commitment to our country never ends.”

Grace Institute, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, has been providing tuition-free job training skills for women in New York City for more than 100 years.  Its new program builds on this success, working with military spouses and family members to assist with the transition to life off the base. The program includes intensive computer, business writing and career development classes.  It prepares students for interviews and draws on its extensive lists of employer contacts to arrange meetings and help the students find work.

Tanya landed a job as soon as she graduated.  She now works as a case manager with Catholic Charities.  Her specialty is eviction prevention.

“It’s great to assist people with empowering themselves,” she said.  “I know the feeling from both ends.”


If you are a female veteran or family member and would like to take advantage of this tuition-free program:

If you are a New York City employer seeking trained, responsible staff:

Career Counseling Program Creates Hope in Midst of Difficult Job Market

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Social workers and career counselors join forces to help unemployed New Yorkers

When the Help & Hope career counseling program began in 2009, in response to the economic downturn, career counselor Ann Ruecker worked to help people reinvent themselves for the job market.

But now, Ruecker says, there are many individuals who have been out of the job market for so long that the program’s focus is shifting. It now emphasizes the technical aspects of securing a job in a tough market, and ensures that those who are unemployed have access to every possible resource that could provide support – from public assistance to support from a social worker.

“A lot of people have just given up,” said Ruecker. “People come to me who had made six-figure salaries in the past and say ‘I’ll take anything. I’ll take a job paying minimum wage.’”

According to Ruecker, the greatest challenge for long-term job searchers is keeping a positive attitude in the midst of a situation that can seem hopeless. She says that people are very savvy with the tools and methods of job searching, but lose spirit and become negative – something that can be detrimental in interviews with potential employers.

Karen Reynolds, Westchester and Putnam County Supervisor for Catholic Charities Community Services, who oversees the implementation of the Help & Hope program, said that recently, she has started adding a component to the program that outlines the public resources available to unemployed job searchers.

“Most of the people we see are career people. They’ve always been employed, they never had to look for public assistance, they always thought, ‘that’s not for me,’” said Reynolds.

Both Reynolds and Ruecker noted that job searchers might not think to seek out support from a social worker – but emphasized that the rewards can be great, especially since there is a very strong emotional and psychological component to the job search process.

Aware of this emotional component, Ruecker makes a special effort to encourage program participants to take advantage of the six free counseling sessions with a social worker that are an optional part of the program.

“I tell my groups that a meeting with a social worker can help you to be more positive and more self-assured,” she said. “Some people might not realize that in interviews, they are giving off a vibe that they’re not confident, or that they’re negative. This can hurt you in the job market, and is something that a counselor might be able to help you resolve.”

For those attending a Help & Hope career counseling workshop, here’s what you can expect:

First Session: During the first session of the program, Ruecker works with a group of approximately 8 individuals, showing them how they can be hopeful about their options and think creatively about their job search and career development.

Second Session: During the second session, Ruecker  focuses on perfecting participants’ resumes, cover letters and any other documentation that they might need for the job search process.

One-On-One Sessions:  Catholic Charities covers the cost for all program participants to receive personalized help in the form of three one-on-one sessions with Ruecker.  In the one-on-one sessions she will work with you in writing your resume for the first time; recreating your present resume; working on other documents such as cover letters and so forth; work with you to reinvent yourself and explore how your skills, experience, and education can crossover to other occupations; networking strategies for the unpublished job market;  mock interviews; and negotiation strategies once you get your new job.

Sessions with a Social Worker: One to six optional sessions with a social worker can help job searchers build self confidence and address any personal or economic issues that might be hindering them.

Read more about the Help & Hope career counseling program: