Word on the Street: “Without a Job, I Don’t Have a Purpose”

Chase Brandau — Twin Cities, Minnesota

That is what Working America member Gretchen of Hopkins, MN told me this week. She was describing how her life has changed since she had lost her job almost two years ago. Gretchen used to work as a cook at a public school, but was laid-off due to budget cutbacks. Now she is forced to rent out rooms in her house and survive on a $119/week unemployment check, which is set to expire in three months. What she has been through this last two years, echoes what millions of Americans are also suffering through and Gretchen knows this.

What is amazing about Gretchen, is that she has decided to take action by sharing her story with the rest of Minnesota today. She had the courage to take center stage at the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Legislative Agenda press conference and tell her story to a room full of strangers, cameras and reporters.

She had never done anything like this before today. Wouldn’t even consider herself an activist. But today, she decided to become one, because she understood how many others out there do not have a voice right now and she doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines any longer.

This is what Working America is achieving. By reaching the people who feel they do not have a voice and giving them the opportunities to be heard. That is what allows people like Gretchen to take that step from being a victim to being an activist.

“I’m just the common person that needs to be heard,” she said. “I’m not the only one that is going through this. All I need is a job to get back on my feet.”