'Don't give up. You could be like me'

EUGENE, Ore. - Not too long ago, Roxy Blankenbeckley was standing in the unemployment line.

"I had a job, then I lost that job," she said. "It's been up and down and my husband hadn't been working so it was a tough time."

Roxy was one of the long-term unemployed. Her job search took 2 years.

Now she's working full-time for Action Rent-All and Party Time in north Eugene thanks to help from a program called Job Connections at Goodwill Industries.

"A lot of people need assistance with applications, resumes, career advice, mock interviews, so we make sure that we can help people meet those needs," said Caitlin Whitlow, director of Job Connections.

The service is free, paid for by sales at the non-profit's Goodwill thrift stores.

"The first thing when they come in is we're going to take a look at their application materials," Whitlow said. "That's really the first impression has of you."

Paul Davis is a recent participant in the jobs program.

"I considered myself a marketable commodity," he said, "but I still had to get the tools that I needed to be able to go out and look for work."

Davis said between resume help and sharpening his job interview answers, he landed his job as a chemical dependency counselor.

"When I went out, I was accustomed to getting up at 7 o'clock, being there when doors opened, being punctual," Davis said.

Job Connections expanded this year to help people over 50 find work or move beyond their entry level job.

Nearly half the grads from the "Plus" program have scored better jobs, like Blankenbeckley.

She spent two months in the jobs program, which opened up all kinds of doors of opportunity.
Roxy says above all, the program instilled in her the confidence that yes, there was a job waiting for her.

"It's when you don't get out of bed, that's when it gets worse and worse, so it's a matter of staying positive," she said. "Don't give up. You could be like me."