Even as a kid, Janet Glover-Kerkvliet was interested in career development. “Since I was 10,” says Glover-Kerkvliet, “I would look at the job listings because I was interested in finding out all the ways that people made money.” Her interest became even more personal when she was 14 – her father, who was 48 at the time, was laid off from his job, their home was foreclosed, and the family had to move into a hotel. Glover-Kerkvliet says that “it was devastating for my father and he never really got over it.”
An organization like the Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group (BJHSG), which Glover-Kerkvliet runs, would have benefited her father, she says. BJHSG is a volunteer-led group that provides social, emotional, and psychological support to the long-term unemployed and under-employed, with a focus on job seekers over age 45 who have not worked for six months or more. “There’s significant social, emotional, and psychological impact of being jobless, especially for older adults,” says Glover-Kerkvliet. Strain on the family and kids, separation, depression, post-traumatic stress, foreclosures, and homelessness are some of the many effects of long-term unemployment.
Glover-Kerkvliet, a therapist with a private practice, first became involved with BJHSG as a member. She joined the group in 2012 because she was trying to decide what direction to go in her career. When the original founders left, they asked Glover-Kerkvliet to continue to lead the group.
This group – older Gen Xers (now ages 47-54) and Baby Boomers (now ages 55-73) – make up the majority of older long-term unemployed workers. Many of them lost their jobs in 2008, during the Great Recession, and have not been able to find full-time employment since. They are competing for jobs with Millennials (ages 24-42), who are more likely to be hired. And they must confront their own ideas of success and failure and their concept of what career means. “They would like to have traditional W-2 jobs again,” says Glover-Kerkvliet, “but they have to redefine what a career looks like.”
BJHSG helps members recharge and reengage in their job search, redesign their life plans, and rebuild their careers, says Glover-Kerkvliet. The organization hosts weekly support group meetings, guest speakers, and special events as well as a 12-week career incubator called “TEAMWORKS” and an Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP), sponsored by Operation HOPE, a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to train low income people how to start a business.
With the OSI Community Fellowship, Glover-Kerkvliet will be able to expand the number and types of programs that BJHSG offers. “I’m trying to help people get their professional mojo back so that they get back out there,” says Glover-Kerkvliet. “People shouldn’t be having to navigate this journey by themselves.”