Being out of work during your adult life is traumatic. But being out of work after you reach a certain age is life-changing.
People on the other side of 50 comprise the most experienced workforce in this country, yet they are vulnerable to being permanently unemployed due to several factors. Most frequently, they are considered “overqualified.” Some employers are concerned that experienced workers accepting lower positions will leave when (if) a better opportunity presents itself.
Working all your life at a successful career, only to have the rug pulled out from under you through no fault of your own, is a helpless feeling. Companies close suddenly, or management changes direction, downsizing your position because it is “no longer needed.”
Life doesn’t stop when you’re out of work. In a time when couples should be looking forward to the next stage of life, you are faced with how to even get there.
I was out of work for a few months at the end of 2000 (after the Y2K nonsense) when I had two young children, a wife, a dog and a mortgage. It was frightening to know that at 43, I might have to start over. I was downsized before there was even a term called “downsizing.”
Attending a seminar led by a job coach, he recommended we not take the first job offer presented and, instead, use this as a chance to explore a life’s dream. I responded that although I always wanted to play shortstop for the Mets, I intended to take the first job I was offered to feed and protect my family. The bank doesn’t allow me to pay bills with dreams. I was lucky to get another position as an IT manager at Brunswick Hospital.
But 20 years later, if the same thing happened, I don’t expect to even get a job offer.
That’s where the Long Island Breakfast Club (LIBC) comes in. Formed back in 2006, the LIBC began as a small group of like-minded people helping others find employment and has developed into a networking group, hundreds of people strong.
One of the co-founders, Valentina Janek, published a book called From Fired to Freedom—How Life After the Big, Bad Boot Gave Me Wings (available on Amazon) that details 79 stories, written by older Long Islanders about their experiences and struggles to get back into the job force. It’s an eye-opening glimpse of similar experiences across different types of professions.
The members of the LIBC help each other get back on their feet, and into careers they always had a passion for. I attended the January meeting, becoming acquainted with people who achieved recent success in different jobs after many years in the same profession. There was Dayna who, along with her husband, bought the limo company she worked many years for after showing up for work one morning and finding the doors locked. Janice, a former jockey who’s riding career was ended due to injury, has since authored two books. Margaret, Noreen and Carrie also became authors late in life. Erik found he had a knack for marketing while Doreen is a performer with a golden voice. Millie went into real estate and Patricia is considering a run for office in the local government. Success stories, every single one.
Author Donna Cariello recently published Ambassadors of HOPE (Help One Person Every Day), a collection of stories inspiring you to make a difference in other people’s lives. That’s what the LIBC is all about, people helping people achieve goals in life they might otherwise think were out of reach.
Although I doubt they can help me achieve my dream of being the Mets shortstop, I bet they can help me write a book about it.
Visit the LIBC web site at www.longislandbreakfastclub.com for information about upcoming meetings.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.