“I feel so alone, even though I’m not,” said Judy.
Judy*, in her 50’s and from Lower Merion, lives a life that many would find familiar. She has two grown sons, an older home, and takes care of her aging mother, who lives with her. In 2016, after 30 years of marriage, she and her husband parted ways. And while educated, Judy has struggled with finding even part-time work…as bills pile up and food insecurity has begun to creep into her life.
“From the people who know my situation, I’ve received tons of well-meaning advice,” she remarks. “But I feel like my life has been shaken in a snow globe, and it won’t settle, and no one really understands what’s happening inside.”
Judy’s story isn’t unusual. She’s happy to hear tales of economic success and employment for others, but after dozens of resumes and applications and advice and bills that pile up, she’s wondering when it’s going to be her turn – and when her life will return “to normal.”
Consider this: the economy has added more than half a million jobs since January of 2018, and the unemployment rate sits at its lowest level in 17 years. But at JEVS Career Strategies and beyond, we see the individual devastation and loss of confidence that can accompany a job loss and subsequent job search – and recognize that these feelings of self-worth are more than just numbers on a page.
The Talmud teaches that “Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh” – that all of Israel are responsible for one another. We know that a strong community supports those who are at their weakest moments – and this should be an essential part, not only of our organizations, but of our individual selves.
“Having a job – having meaningful work – in American culture, is so important to our sense of self-worth and well-being,” said Peggy Truitt, Program Director of JEVS Career Strategies. “Work leads to respect, and respect (according to sociologist Richard Sennett) leads to feeling like ‘a full human being whose presence matters.’”
At JEVS Human Services, we work tirelessly to help put individuals, their families, and our community back together. In that spirit, and recognizing that so many feel forgotten or want to improve their situation, we combined forces with Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia to offer a free half-day Job Search Relaunch 2018: From LinkedIn to Self-Care seminar in April, for anyone actively or even casually looking for a new job, position or career.
This effort, underwritten by The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, pooled the resources and talent our community has for the job search process – covering technical aspects (resume writing, interview skills, LinkedIn) and emotional stressors (finances, family understanding) that can hinder ones success. It also included a panel of HR experts discussing evaluative approaches to a job search in 2018, and onsite resources from many of our leading community nonprofits – and with positive feedback from participants, we look forward to making the next Job Search Relaunch even better…for those who may need it at that time.
“Even in a ‘good’ economy, it takes a lot of energy to sustain a job search,” noted Samara Fritzsche, Career Advisor at JEVS. “It takes energy, and time, and connections – and a plan to sustain you, your mind, your body and spirit – while striving to get back to the sense of ‘job normal.’”
And that goal – not merely a job or an even better career, but its byproduct – self-sufficiency, dignity in who we are and what we do – has far reaching implications, not only for Judy, but for her family and the greater community. It’s taking that “shaken” feeling inside, and trying to repair the world, one step at a time.