The holiday season is a time of gift-giving for most. But for the unemployed, the holiday takes on a different meaning.
Starr Platt is a single mother of two children, ages 15 and 6. She has been unemployed since February when her contracting job as a director of food services ended at Fort Hood when the company did not get the re-bid. She had the job for three years.
Since then, Platt has been required to make three good job contacts weekly in order to maintain her unemployment benefits. She hopes to find a job in community outreach and marketing.
“I would like to find (a job) I enjoy,” Platt said. “I know a lot of people who are unhappy at work and are looking for another job while they have a job. I don’t want to be one of those people.”
She has interviewed to be a disc jockey, food service worker, sales clerk, and any other job for which there is an opening, she said.
“I think I am getting good results when I get called back for a second interview,” Platt said. “But then I never hear anything. When my unemployment runs out, I guess I will take anything.”
Platt has used up half of her savings account and is afraid to use anymore.
From February to August, she received state unemployment benefits. When those expired, six months of federal unemployment benefits took effect.
All unemployment benefits, which Platt said are a little more than half of her previous salary, expire soon unless federal unemployment benefits are extended from 28 weeks to 46 weeks.
Federal benefits are set to expire for 1.3 million workers Dec. 28.
Platt said she has been able to find some errand jobs for cash and is now self-employed as a writer. But both jobs together won’t generate enough money to take care of her family.
“There are not going to be any material gifts for Christmas this year,” Platt said. “I will try to do some cooking or make some things for people in my family. I could dip into my savings account. But I’ve gone into it enough trying to make ends meet while being unemployed.”
Cove resident Jory Enck, who became a source of controversy on the Internet recently when he was arrested for an overdue library book, found a job despite his felony record of armed robbery for which he spent three years in prison.
“I am working as a dishwasher at Giovanni’s. I make minimum wage,” Enck said. “But I am grateful to be working.”
As for Platt, her hopes are still high that she will land the job she wants.
“I am hoping there’s a perfect job for me out there. One that will fit my personality and my work ethic,” Platt said. “I want a job that doesn’t feel like a job and where your boss and co-workers appreciate you.”