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Think Out Loud

Coping in Tough Times

Pete Springer/OPB

Oregon’s next round of unemployment numbers are due to be released on April 13 and the news is not expected to be good. More than 236,000 people across the state are already unemployed. We’ll explore the people behind the numbers — are you perhaps one of them? — and discuss how many are learning to thrive (or at least cope) during very difficult economic times.

Take Seth Reams as an example. He lost his job as a concierge at a downtown Portland apartment building in December. After sending out countless resumes and finding nothing, he became depressed. Finally his long-time girlfriend suggested that he just get out and do some volunteering to keep busy. Then he met some other people who felt the same way. Seth created the blog We’ve Got Time to Help and now, just a couple of months later, he’s created a community of over 50 (mostly unemployed) people helping others who are struggling. While Seth still hasn’t found a job, he has certainly found fulfillment.

Meanwhile, this February at the Clackamas County dog shelter FIDO, volunteers began to receive calls from people who had lost their jobs, and found themselves unable to feed their pets. Then donations started to come in, including some from the “We’ve Got Time to Help” crew. (“People helping people helping pets,” they say.) Now FIDO’s running a monthly Dog Food Bank. In March they gave away 3,600 pounds of kibble (that’s enough food for 191 dogs for a month). They’ve also expanded their service past just Clackamas County to the entire Portland metro area — or basically “anyone who can get here,” as one volunteer told me.

Are you recently unemployed? What’s your story? How are you coping? Have you found a new way to make your way in these difficult economic times? Are you involved with a community of people trying to help others? What are you doing to keep busy, help others, or at least ward off the blues?

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