One of the by-products of losing a job is down time. What’s the best use for it?
Today, our occasional series Hard Times continues, as we meet a woman who’s using down time to build a business, while juggling a full plate of other responsibilities. April Baer reports.
Angie Blackwell: “Yes! Got it!”
In just a few minutes, Angie Blackwell will be making an ask. But it’s not for her, tonight.
She’s giving a presentation at a woman-to-woman fundraiser for the advocacy group Children First for Oregon. And she’s just been going over her speech with staff.
Angie Blackwell: “...so she’s got all the messages I need to weave into my little talk tonight....”
This event drew some pretty big players in human services. It’s Portland -- the dress code is casual, but plenty of these women have expensive-looking haircuts and pedicures.
Blackwell is holding her own, with perfect makeup, freshly-pressed slacks and a ruffled floral shirt.
Angie Blackwell “Let me look round and see if I recognize anybody. Cause I’m not in the scene in Portland very much. Not any more.”
Most of the women in this room probably wouldn’t guess what Blackwell’s going through back home in McMinnville -- the loss of a job, money worries, and an uphill battle to start her own business. When she meets people, she’s all smiles.
Angie Blackwell: “Hi Cathy! I just wanted to say hi, I’m so glad to see you.”
Cathy Kaufmann: “Hi! It’s great to see you!....”
Angie Blackwell: “I was in an elected posi tion with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. And I served on the tribal Council, which is a full- time paid position. In 2007, I did not win my re-election, which came as quite a surprise. I figured I wouldn’t have much trouble at all finding a job after that.”
But Angie Blackwell wasn’t counting on the recession. She’s no stranger to work, having held a variety of menial and professional jobs since she was 14. But she was sending out applications last year just as the economy started to crash.
So Blackwell hatched an idea for starting a business. She took a course to become a life coach, and is marrying that training with her background as a mediator.
She now describes herself as a coach for stepfamilies, and she's looking for clients.
Angie Blackwell: “It’s really slow going at first. There’s a lot of work before any money comes through the door. I’ve been working on this for about a year, more so recently, on a full-time basis.”
Blackwell says, sure, making the effort to stay involved at events like this may be a chance to meet people who can refer her. But this night also keeps her feeling as if she’s making a contribution -- not a small thing when you’re struggling to make the next mortgage payment.
Angie Blackwell “When I first lost my position, I had a little of an identity crisis, trying to figure out, OK, who am I now? And I did miss that connection to other people. And it took me a while to work through that.”
The volunteering also helps with the loss of connection she used to get from co-workers -- the little interactions that most of us take for granted.
Angie Blackwell: “Of course, I have five kids, so I have my own social network right at home.”
We’ll catch up with that network, next time.