IMPACT
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hard-Luck Mom Stole From Daughter's Softball Team To Pay Bills

As part of our Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up compelling local stories about the victims of the recession.

A mother in Minnesota admitted to stealing $6,550 from her daughter's old high school softball team to pay her bills, reports Esme Murphy for the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., WCCO-TV.

Roberta Hedemark, the treasurer for her daughter's team's booster club, lost her job a year ago, and said she needed the money for her family's bills. Hedermark wrote at least 15 checks to herself and her husband from April to August of this year. She said she had already repaid $4,000.

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Children of recently-laid off parents are psychologically affected by their parents' employment troubles, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal's Michael Martinez. After 10-year-old Jodie Watts's mother, Janie, lost her job in September, Jodie started to exhibit "behavioral problems" in school. Janie, a single mother, told the Gazette-Journal that her daughter was acting out to get attention in school "because she wasn't getting it from me."

The Gazette-Journal cites a study by the University of California, Davis, that found unemployed parents' stress and despair can trickle down to their children. "She's seen the differences in me," said Janie. "I found myself pulling away from my children, pulling away from my friends, pulling away from everything."

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Zeno Shoe Shine has been at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for more than 47 years, but will be gone by the end of January. According to the Star Tribune's Maria Elena Baca, the store's owner, Rosemary Zeno, is being pushed out by the Metropolitan Airports Commission because the shop doesn't make enough money to trigger a surcharge that would benefit the commission.

The shop was started by Rosemary's father, Royal Zeno, who died in 2008. The other employees are all in their seventies and eighties, and their income supplements their Social Security checks, according to the Twin Cities' Pioneer Press. "You have to look at what this is," Zeno told the newspaper. "It's a shoeshine. I just want to work and keep being able to live."

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The Las Vegas Sun's J. Patrick Coolican
profiles seven struggling Nevadans at a job placement office. Among them is Robert Martin, 39, who lost his job six months ago, and has gone as far as Arkansas to look for work. His girlfriend, Danielle Lorenzi, has a master's degree, but was laid off from her job in child services with the county.

Also featured is Samson Baya, 35, an immigrant from Kenya. Baya is homeless, and would like to get a job so that he can join his wife and infant child in Chicago. "No luck," he told Coolican, "but I don't lose hope."

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There is only one homeless shelter in central Vermont, and it's full, reports Peter Hirschfeld for the Times Argus. All 20 beds at the Good Samaritan Haven, in Barre, Vt., are occupied, and the shelter is relying on a local church to help with the overflow.

"As a matter of Christian faith we really have no choice but to provide housing for the homeless in this weather," said Rev. Ralph Howe, pastor of the Hedding United Methodist Church. Outside temperatures in Barre rarely get above freezing in the winter.

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Paul Napper, in Wyoming, Mich., lost his factory job almost exactly a year ago. In June, a flood destroyed his car. But those hardships have not stopped him from giving to others, reports WZZM-TV's Amy Fox. Napper and his family participate in Operation Warmth, a program in which they collect coats, hats and gloves to distribute to the needy.

"I just lost my car, lost my job, just keep this Operation Warmth for the homeless going," he told WZZM.


HuffPost readers: Seen a compelling local story? Have a neighbor going to bizarre lengths to get through the recession? Tell us about it! Email julian@huffingtonpost.com.

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