DEPRESSION IN THE RECESSION: Unemployed Woman Finds Hope In Volunteering As A Big Sister

05/27/2010 10:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Huffington Post has reported recently on the 99ers, Americans who've gone through the full 99 weeks of unemployment payments and can still not find a job. We've received dozens of e-mails from individuals who have not been able to find a job despite sending out literally hundreds of resumes. We will be featuring these stories over the coming weeks.

One of the most untold stories of the economic crisis is the mental effect on those who are used to 40-hour work weeks, but are left with nothing but bills and unreturned phone calls from greta baithemployers.

Thirty-two-year-old Philadelphia native Greta Baith had a secure job, a good credit score, a savings and a new car. She was initially hopeful after being let go from her job in pharmaceutical communications, thinking that it was an opportunity to explore a new career -- the excitement wore off after months of applying to jobs with no luck.

"I thought my 6 months of severance would have been enough time to find a new job," she said. "But as months and months of unemployment and not finding a job passed, I became extremely depressed. Not working and being alone all day became very isolating."

The impact of unemployment is more than just the stress of being unable to pay bills. It encourages depression and loneliness.

The one element of Greta's life that kept her feeling motivated was her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters. She's in the photo above with her "little," Rashanna.

As the Huffington Post has reported, volunteering has been shown to improve one's sense of purpose and general wellbeing, making it an attractive activity for the unemployed.

"I wish I could spend this period of having so much free time more productively," Baith said. "Depression, stress and lack of money often stands in the way."


Los Angeles resident Mignon Veasley-Fields used to earn nearly six figures -- now she cannot even find work in a fast food restaurant. The school where she last worked as an administrator, LEAP Academy Charter High School in Chatsworth, ran out of money in 2008 and all employees were laid off. To keep her family -- which includes three grandchildren -- afloat, her 76-year-old husband must still work 35 hours a week as a city bus driver.

After nearly two years of looking for another source of income, she is still at a loss, and her unemployment benefits ran out this week.

"I am a responsible citizen of this country and have worked all of my life," she says, as a response to those who may accuse the unemployed of indolence. "The lie that we unemployed are particular as to the type of job that we will take is only that -- a lie. There are no jobs for the unemployed who are seeking employment, especially in Los Angeles, Calif., where I live."


Tim Brand was a professional word processor and office worker for 30 years. In 2005, his position was officially outsourced to India, and he was left with no job and no prospects. He was able to get by, working temp jobs, until 2009 when it became too expensive to continue living in New York City.

Now 57, Tim lives in an apartment owned by his cousin in Sebring, Florida. It was either that or move into a homeless shelter.

"My health insurance was canceled when I moved to Florida," he said. "I have no job and only $200 a month in food stamps."

Are you a 99er? E-mail us your story at