Past Newsworthy Dads

Job Loss Hits Home

‘Work and pray’ takes on new meaning in a tough market

by Gerald Korson

Scott Swinger was a senior project manager for a tier-1 automotive supplier in the Detroit area and enjoyed a solid compensation package as the U.S. economy began its steep decline. Realizing the recession would impact his company and perhaps even his own position, he told his boss last fall that he was willing to take on additional work or even accept a pay cut to preserve his job.

Swinger was given the extra assignments and worked 13 to 14 hours per day for the next few months, but to no avail. As he arrived for work one morning last December, he was informed that he had been laid off.

“I wasn’t surprised about being let go,” Swinger said, “just disappointed and a little hurt at the timing, right before Christmas.”

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Peter Riccardo also has been hit hard by the country’s economic woes – twice, in fact. In 2006, as the subprime mortgage meltdown was only beginning but with America’s automakers already struggling, his position with Chrysler was eliminated without warning. He had been employed there for 20 years.

In spring 2007, after 15 months of unemployment, Riccardo landed a position with General Motors in Pontiac, Mich. – with the truck division that GM announced it will shut down this summer.

This time, however, he received advance notice. “By October 2010, our truck division will no longer be in existence,” Riccardo said. “So I am here until October 2010, as far as I know.”

Faith and Family

But Swinger and Riccardo have more than just heartbreaking experiences of job loss in common. Both men also credit their faith in God and the support of friends and family as keys to seeing their way through these difficult times.

“I have always had my faith, but I think I have come to appreciate my faith more deeply and with a better understanding of what the power of positive thinking and prayer can do,” Swinger said. “My family, especially my wife and children, have been a tremendous support and provided endless amounts of uplifting spirit through these cloudy times.”

Five months into his unemployment, Swinger received another blow when his mother passed away. “She was 95 and lived a good life,” he said. “My faith and family support helped my sister and me through this.”

Swinger was fortunate to have received a severance package; finding a job is difficult at 59 years of age.

Riccardo survived by placing his trust in God. During his unemployment, he and his wife attended daily Mass.

“What got me through those 15 months was my faith,” he said. “I knew that God would provide for me and my family in his timing.”

Give to Receive

Another man of faith who has found himself suddenly out of work is Anthony Diallo – who, ironically, had helped organize a Career and Education Fair sponsored by his local Knights of Columbus council last March. Not long after that he lost his U.S. government position as a public-affairs specialist in Washington, D.C.

“My faith in God, the Roman Catholic Church and my wife have been tremendous,” Diallo said. “My wife, Yolandra, has been super-supportive during this trying time.”

Having experienced the dark side of the recession, all three men had advice for others who are struggling to find work.

“I would tell anybody who is about to lose their job or has already lost their job to pray, pray and then pray some more,” said Diallo. He also advises job-seekers to “think outside the box” and rely more on networking. “In these harsh recessional, depression-like times, jobs are going to come to those who know someone, and not necessarily on pure skill and talent.”

Riccardo’s best suggestion is similar: Pray every day and try to attend daily Mass. “Know that God is aware of our needs and will provide for them in his time,” he said. “Whenever a door closes, another always opens.”

For Swinger, his best practical advice is to prepare in advance for employment changes by diversifying skills. “At 59, I am a little too old to go back and get re-educated,” he explained. “This last year has proven to me that you can’t always rely on one career, even if you work for several different companies. So try to have a fallback career or skill set: It helps to have an alternative way of life plan in your back pocket.”

Above all, Swinger urged, rely on faith in God, because “the Lord will not give you any more than you can handle.”

Gerald Korson, a veteran reporter, writes from Fort Wayne, Indiana.