By Chris Meehan
In the current weak US job market, some community members have emerged from long stretches of unemployment with strengthened faith and paychecks in hand. On smaller salaries and budgets that remain tight, they tell of increased trust in God and deep appreciation for the support of the community.
Their stories vary, revealing no magic formula for finding employment.
Hugh Springer, Sr. (Servant Branch) found a job with a much a longer commute—295 miles, all the way to Neenah, Wisconsin. (He stays with Steve and Amee Pable of the Appleton Branch during the week and returns to the Twin Cities on weekends.) On the other hand, the job John Fasbender (Servant Branch) found is in nearby downtown Minneapolis.
Hugh’s job as manager for a medical products company came after two years of searching and more than 100 interviews. John benefitted from the concern of a brother, Brad Bye, who heard from a golf buddy about a management job at a title insurance company. “Brad’s recommendation got me the crucial first interview, which ultimately led to the job,” John says.
The recession hit Muncie hard, leaving 10 of the 34 men in the branch unemployed. Three years ago, Dan Capstick lost his job of 22 years at auto parts manufacturer BorgWarner. He worked briefly for another company before landing a job with good benefits but a lower salary at Tomasco, a parts supplier for Honda. Like John, Dan got the job through a community brother who passed his resume along to a supervisor. “I knew something good would eventually happen,” Dan says.
Servant Branch members Mary Jo Koplos and Paul Putzier took advantage of their unemployment to explore new possibilities. Mary Jo lost her full-time job composing software manuals for the University of Minnesota three years ago. She relied on money saved for just such an emergency, and eventually decided to accept several part-time jobs, rather than full-time work. “God had to help me see that I need not take the standard 9-to-5 route,” she says. “I had to make some cutbacks and take some initiative, but the Lord took care of me.”
She is currently writing product descriptions, substitute teaching, editing a newsletter and writing features for a news web site based in Eagan, Minnesota. The last job allows her to write stories about the community and Trinity School, both based in Eagan.
Paul Putzier, a geologist by training, researched a variety of new occupations before launching his own business. He is now a job placement specialist, helping people find new lines of work after suffering injuries. Jim Reinhardt, a professional in this field, helped Paul get the business going. “I encounter the Lord every day in my work and routinely pray with clients,” Paul says. “It’s tremendously gratifying to help others find work, even when it’s as basic as assisting them in creating a resume.”
After a slow start-up year, Paul says the work is paying well, though less than his previous job. Like some of the others, he says he relied on the generosity of brothers and sisters to help his family make ends meet.
Of course, there are still community members who remain unemployed. Jon Cassady (northern Virginia) lost his marketing job with IBM in March, 2009. He plugs ahead with vigor—networking and interviewing—with an encouraging word always at the ready. In the meantime, he has lent some of his expertise to the LaSalle Company and its web site development division, One:Ten Communications. As far as Jon is concerned, unemployment, just like employment, is an opportunity to serve. “I have a new mindset now: whether I have a job or not, God is my employer.”