Workshop held for unemployed

Posted March 31, 2009, at 11:05 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Jolene Walton worked full time for 21 years at a local auto parts store until the end of December, when she lost her job in the floundering economy.

On Tuesday, Walton was at a workshop called “Moving Forward” that featured talks on surviving after a layoff.

“I was crying on the first day I went” out looking for a new job, she recalled.

Walton now works part time as a certified nurse’s assistant and attended the workshop with hopes of someday returning to her former income bracket.

The event, which was sponsored by the Penobscot County Transition Team and also featured talks on health care options for unemployed workers and services available at the regional CareerCenters, was telecast to five locations around the state, said Jen Brooks, the Penquis agency’s spokeswoman and a transition team member.

“We broadcasted to Dover, Calais and Machias this morning, and this afternoon we’ll broadcast to [East] Millinocket and Ellsworth,” she said.

During the afternoon session, three people listened from East Millinocket and nine sat around the table in Machias. In Bangor, two displaced workers, one of them Walton, listened to the presenters in a conference room at Eastern Maine Community College.

Glenn Blair, an area specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, spoke about programs offered by the USDA.

Farrah Perry, loan officer for MaineStream Finance, said her agency has funds for those who do not qualify for traditional financing, and it also provides counseling.

“What we’re very busy with right now is foreclosure prevention counseling,” she said.

Paula Fontes, paralegal for Pine Tree Legal Assistance, offered advice on how to slow down a home foreclosure, and John Moore, senior vice president of Bangor Savings Bank, explained today’s mortgage system and how the government is helping homeowners.

“Do not be ashamed” of falling behind, he said. “Things happen.”

Take action and ask lenders about what can be done to prevent a foreclosure, he stressed.

“Be persistent,” Moore added. “You’ve made an investment. You have a stake in that property.”

The all-day workshop was designed to reach out to displaced workers from small and large businesses, Blair said.

A resource fair also was held. It featured booths sponsored by the University of Maine at Augusta, Bangor Adult & Community Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Development Center, Penobscot Community Health, Bangor Savings Bank, United Way, Women, Work and Community, and Penquis.

Walton said she is taking advantage of available educational opportunities and will go back to school this week at United Technologies Center’s adult education program studying computers.

“I start class Thursday,” she said. “I know I’ve got to do it.”

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