Hire a Vet - Paying it Forward

Friday, December 28 - It took Edward Chinchilla all of one month at his new job for the former U.S. Army Sergeant to find a way to bring another veteran on staff at Adams Communication and Engineering Technology. (ACET) Chinchilla, readers of JVSWorks may remember, is a client of JVS’ Veterans First and an honoree during the recent Thanksgiving Brunch Honoring Veterans. He joined ACET’s human resources department in November after being unemployed for more than a year.

Chinchilla likes the new position and has been in regular contact with Veterans First Coordinator Jessica Cheng who – he says – will get “first dibs” on any openings. The company was founded by a veteran and looks to hire vets whenever it has vacancies with a goal of getting its workforce up to at least 35% composed of former veterans. Chinchilla also is establishing professional connections with veterans organizations in New York, Alabama and Texas.

“So Edward is paying it forward,” says Cheng. “He’s letting me know when they have job openings and interviewing our people. They just hired Marvin and they’re interviewing another one of our clients next week.”

Marvin is Marvin Hayes, a former member of the United States Marine Corps with a background in information technology (IT). He will join ACET as a help desk IT technician. Although they both came through JVS Veterans First, Chinchilla doesn’t know Hays personally, but he does have a sense of the job prospects that a returning veteran will face.

“I know the struggles I faced when I was jobless,” says Chinchilla. “Even though I don’t know him personally, we have that same job. I don’t want other veterans to be struggling.”


JVS Holiday Gift Card Appeal -- Faces and Stories

Friday, December 28 - Shortly before Christmas, JVS Works regaled you with tidings of our holiday gift card appeal and how Christmas came early to some of our neediest clients. The stories and photos are trickling in and we’ll be sharing them here and on Facebook. We have some preliminary totals.

The Holiday Gift Card appeal brought in $2,830 as well as a large donation of toys from William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Morris, Sunny Caine, Ellen Morehead, Rick Powell, Steve Seigel, The Baran and Spiwack Family, Nan Goodman, Eileen Slutsky, Richard Krelstein, Judith Galperson, Josie Kotliar and Pat Sills.

As the stories below very clearly establish, your donations make an impact.


Candida D., Jesus and their sons Giovanni 12, Brandon 8 and Jesse 2 live in a small apartment in Panorama City. Jesus works in construction and Candy was laid off before Jesse was born. Candy has successfully completed HealthWorks™, the Certified Nurse Assistant (CAN) training program and was just hired this month at a mental health facility, but she and Jesus are strapped for money and the likelihood of having anything to give the boys this holiday was really slim until JVS donors stepped up.


Shayla C., recent BankWork$™graduate, was facing dire economic hardship and homelessness, when she received a job offer at Wells Fargo as a result of her BankWork$™ training.  She is excited to begin her new job, but didn’t know how she would survive until her first paycheck. Thanks to the generous donation of JVS donors, she received Target gift cards which allowed her to purchase the items she needed to begin her professional career and Ralph’s cards to buy food through the holidays. According to BankWork$™ Manager Lisa Meadows Shayla “was thrilled and had tears of joy.” We thank our JVS donors for helping another BankWork$™ student reach a goal of self-sufficiency.


Krus G. and her children Hazel, Abraham and Israel

Krupskaia “Krus” G., single mother of 3, Abraham, Hazel and Israel, struggles to make ends meet on her part-time in-home caregiver salary. There was no money for a holiday celebration or special meal for her family until she received JVS donors’ Target and Ralph’s gift cards. She says “(JVS) has provided the hope and help I needed to stay positive.” Krus has been accepted into HealthWorks™ and is excited to begin training. She hopes to find full-time work soon and work her way up the career ladder to become a registered nurse (RN). “I couldn’t believe people I didn’t even know would reach out to help,” said Krus. “There are angels among us.”


Marvin H. is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who worked as an information technology (IT) Specialist for 20 years until he was laid off in 2010. He has worked as an independent consultant but was unable to find full-time employment. Marvin exhausted his savings and became homeless, living at the West LA VA Domiciliary.  Marvin is recently employed through the JVS' Veterans First program and will start his new job in January 2012 as a help desk IT technician.  Marvin will use the Target gift cards from JVS donors to buy new work clothes and is very happy to start this new chapter of his life.

Remembering Newtown in Palmdale


Wednesday, December 26 -- The reverberations of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy have spread to every part of the United States. Including to JVS and – more specifically – to our Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program in Palmdale where unit assistant Marisela Corona created a tribute that she would see every day through the holidays. The Palmdale GAIN staff decorated their office cubicles for the holidays. The centerpiece of Corona’s winter wonderland scene is a gingerbread house with blue and white candy and cupcake decorations containing the names of all 26 victims of the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The children’s names are on the wrapped up pieces of candy that border the gingerbread house. The adult victim’s names are located on paper cupcakes which adorn an adjacent Christmas tree.

Corona does not know anybody at Sandy Hook or in Newtown. The decoration theme was a “parent to parent” inspiration.

“I’m going to school so I can ultimately work with children,” says Corona who joined JVS in 2011 “And I have a daughter of my own. I thought this would be a fun way to celebrate and let them know that they’re in our hearts and our thoughts.”

Corona is studying psychology and hopes to eventually be a counselor. Her 7-year-old daughter Angelina helped design and construct the display.

“She understood what happened,” Corona said of Angelina. “We’ve had the news on consistently and she’s been asking lots of questions about who did what.”

In the office’s cubicle-decorating contest, Corona’s display took home a gift certificate and a hot chocolate set.

“I was impressed,” said Suzanne Harms, the GAIN Program Operations Manager. “She did an amazing job. That’s what Christmas is all about.”

State Jobless Rate Falls Below 10%

The monthly numbers out of Washington tell one story. The monthly data from the state Employment Development Department tell another. This month’s tale was encouraging: the jobless rate for the state of California finally dipped under 10% to 9.8% for November, the first time we have fallen below 10% in four years.

The surge – or fall-off – is partially attributable to a hiring flurry coinciding with the holidays.

We’ll do our standard good news/but don’t get too excited news.

Positives first: California seems to be following the nation which is also experiencing a drop in the unemployment rate (7.7% at last count). Since the recovery began in February of 2010, California has gained 564,100 new jobs. The number of unemployed people in California is 1,805,000 – down by 43,000 since October , 285,000 fewer than it was in November of 2011. Construction, trade, transportation and utilities, information, financial activities and leisure and hospitality were all categories that reported job gains.

Approximately 391.870 Californians were receiving unemployment benefits in November compared to 453,448 in October and 536,294 in November 2011.

Looking locally, of the 4,855,000-member labor force in Los Angeles County,  an estimated 4,377,000 are employed and 478,000 are unemployed for an unemployment rate of 9.8% That rate is somewhere in the middle compared to other counties in the state. Neighboring Orange County, for example which has less than half of L.A. County’s labor force is at 7% while Ventura County (with 1/10th the labor force of Los Angeles County) is at 8.6%. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are at 11.5% and 11% unemployment respectively.

And if you plan to move north and east to the central part of the state, you'd best have a job waiting for you. Kern County is at 12.4%, Fresno County is 14.4%. In Imperial County, near the Arizona and Mexico border, 20,600 of the county’s 77,300 labor force are unemployed: 26.6%.

The state labor force  - those who are employed or looking for jobs – grew by 34,100 in November, yet the state lost jobs. The Los Angeles Times chalks this up, in some measure, to a growing number of independent contractors and sole proprietors.

The January numbers  - which we won't see until February - could paint a very different picture once those who found seasonal holiday employment go off the books and potentially back onto the unemployment ranks. And, sounding a dirge that is anything but seasonal, more than 400,000 Californians could lose their unemployment benefits by the end of this week if the President and Congress don’t take action.

Review and provide your own take on California’s employment and jobless numbers here.

Here's how not to Treat a Veteran


Here at JVS Works, we have spilled a fair amount of e-ink talking about the obstacles faced by the men and women who serve our country when they return to the civilian world. We have talked about JVS' Veterans First which helps servicemen and women find jobs and receive training. We have stressed the importance - economic and moral - of employers filling open positions by "hiring a hero." Soon to come in JVS Works, we'll be giving you an update on a veteran who was himself unemployed, joined a firm as a human resources officer and then went about hiring more veterans from his new place of employment. (Stay tuned)

Periodically, as must be the case with many a veteran, we come across situations so appalling, it's a wonder the perpetrators can look themselves in the mirror. We look to be as fair and balanced as possible when assessing a circumstance, but after reviewing Aaron Glantz's report for the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), it's very hard not to see red.

"Number of veterans who die Waiting for Benefits Claims Skyrockets," reads his story published today on the CIR website and discussed on National Public Radio's Take 2.

Glantz's story puts a too human face on this tragedy. He talks of World War II veterans languishing away in nursing homes, waiting for much needed pension checks that might help make those final years easier. He writes of an Iraq War serviceman who took his own life after his claim for insurance benefit to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was denied. Glantz writes of "tens of thousands of veterans being approved for disability benefits and pensions only after it is too late for the money to help them."

Some 900,000 servicemen and women nationwide have been waiting nine months for a decision on their claims. The average wait time for a Los Angeles veteran is a year and a half, easily the lengthiest duration of any other place in the nation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs

seems to agree that long wait times are not good, but a spokesman says the fact that payments are still made posthumously is to be applauded.

“It’s a good thing that the VA pays benefits to honor the service of veterans and the sacrifices of their family members despite the fact that a veteran has unfortunately died,” Dave McLenachen, director of the agency’s pension and fiduciary service is quoted in Glantz's write-up.

Read the rest of this excellent article here, but be prepared to be outraged.

Christmas Comes Early to JVS Clients


Thursday, December 20 - Luerenzia D. received an early dose of holiday cheer when she was informed of her acceptance into JVS' HealthWorks. She'll start her training in the Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training program beginning in January. CNA training is a first step for clients interested in a career in the health care field. Once she goes through HealthWorks expects to keep scaling the ladder.

"Since I was little, I knew I wanted to be a doctor," said Luerenzia . "I just knew I had to do something to help people. I’m not going to give up the dream of being a doctor, but I think more of being a nurse. Hopefully that will give me a flexible schedule so I can still spend time with my son Jayon and be able to give him the things he needs."

Also welcome were gift cards to Target and Ralph's which Luerenzia received when she came to the JVS headquarters this week. Several of our agency's clients including military veterans, youth and  participants in training programs such as HealthWorks and BankWork$ were given gift cards to help make the holiday a little bit brighter. More than $2,500 in gift cards will be distributed to over 30 JVS clients.

Luerenzia lives on tight budget which, this year, almost meant that 11- year-old Jayon would not get Christmas. In addition to being unemployed, many of the targeted JVS clients are facing medical issues, homelessness and/or extreme poverty.

The road ahead will still be challenging, but Luerenzia has a path toward that first step. In addition to being able to buy some gifts, she will be able to cook an ambitious meal for 12 people in her family.

"I think it's wonderful what JVS does for people," she says. "It gives them a foundation to build a career on. They’re very supporting."

"Modest but Accelerating Growth" Forecasted for 2013


Tuesday, December 18 - Well, "modest but accelerating growth" certainly beats the opposite. But it doesn't exactly inspire cartwheels.

A survey of top forecasters from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) are predicting unemployment will hover around 7.7% for most of 2013. The NABE Outlook December 2012 expects the economy to grow by 2.1% following 2.2% growth in 2012.

Given the hole out of which we're trying to climb from the Great Recession, this growth rate would qualify as "tepid," the very word used by Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger in his article on the NABE forecast for the Associated Press.

"Growth at that pace is not strong enough to make a significant improvement in unemployment," Crutsinger writes.

Remember earlier this month when everybody was celebrating unemployment finally dropping below 8% for the first time in four years? OK, maybe not so much celebrating. (By then, the 2012 presidential election had been decided). It's not so hopeful when that same figure is supposed to continue... for... the next...year.

Doesn't sound much like progress, does it?

If you're looking for bright spots in the NABE outlook, there are a few, namely

  • anticipated growth in the residential housing market
  • no increase in inflation
  • possible improvement in the deficit

Stay tuned. This story's far from over.

An Everyday Hero of JVS' Scholarship Program


Tuesday, December 18 -

OK, we have tons of "everyday heroes," donors who help students realize their educational dreams as part of the JVS Scholarship Program. We appreciate and thank them all more than any words here in JVS Works can express.

Today one donor is unsung no more. Chic Wolk is featured in a series of profiles of Unsung Heroes of 2012 published by the Los Angeles Daily News.

Mr. Wolk, who is a philanthropist and a very modest man, has been donating to the JVS Scholarship Program since 2006. Initially he supported one student per year until the 2012-13 yeah when he quadrupled his donation, paving the way for financial scholarships for seven students in need.

He also founded the Survivor Mitzvah Project which sends money and aid to elderly Jews in rural parts of eastern Europe.

Of the JVS Scholarship program, Wolk told the Daily News' Bob Strauss: I visualize somebody who's completed three years of college, bright young person, and their mother or father lost their job and there's no money for tuition anymore. Their potential is going to be lost to themselves, and if they could continue their education they could probably contribute more to society."

Read the rest of the article here. And if you ever find yourself at Izzy's Deli in Santa Monica, you can order Chic Wolk's Hot Oatmeal in honor of a deserving hero who is unsung no longer.

Unexpected Holiday Phone Call


Friday, December 14 -- Our generous JVS donors have become accustomed to hearing from the agency whether we're informing them about a new program, inviting them to an upcoming event or asking them to continue supporting JVS, its program and its mission. On Thursday, a group of donors received phone calls from JVS yet again, but not as part of any appeal, invitation or request. We called to say thanks for their support over the years and to wish them and theirs a happy holiday and a joyous new year.

Here's the twist: these thank-you calls were placed not by interns or random JVS staff members or by a programed recording. Nope. Convening at our office and taking to the phones were JVS Board President John Goldsmith, Vice Presidents Nan Goodman and Jim Hausberg and


JVS administrators including Chief Philanthropy Officer Randy H. Lapin, VP Communications Katherine Moore, JVS Scholarship Program Manager Pat Sills and JVS CEO Vivian Seigel.

As one might well imagine, these phone calls engendered both surprise and good cheer on the part of the contacted donors. The personal touch will do that.

Uncovering - and Winning - the Hidden Job

This one will hit home for job seekers. Right in the gut for many of us.

That great job that one of your LinkedIn-mates landed...the job that should have and darned well would have been yours if you had only known it existed...

That job that was probably never advertised, but was actually built around some internal candidate.

In the article "How to get a Hidden Job" written by Suzanne Lucas for CBS MoneyWatch, Executive Job Coach Debra Feldman (AKA the JobWhiz) walks readers through the ins and outs of finding, cultivating and getting that dream job (and thereby leaving YOUR LinkedIn contacts to gnash their molars). The basic message:  cultivate your connections and present yourself so that the dream job can become the hidden job that will now materialize for you.

"If you are making contacts at the office, at conventions, with vendors and with suppliers," Lucas writes, "your name will come up when managers are still in the 'thinking about making some changes' stage of the recruitment process.

Networking and building relationships may seem like fairly obvious job-seeking advice, but this is a compelling and well laid out case with some good eye-opening information.

Even better, the person who brought the article to my attention said he received comparable advice from JVS Career Counselor Stephen Payne.

Clearly great job-seeking minds think alike.

Is Your Next Job in the Creative Industry?


Friday, December 7 - If Otis College of Art and Design is to be believed, you might want to start readying those cameras and sketch pads. The just-released 2012 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region notes that the creative economy is the 4th largest employment cluster out of 66 in Los Angeles. One out of every eight jobs is in the creative economy.

This is the sixth year that the L.A.-based Otis has released its creative economy report. The 2012 edition was launched from the new Google YouTube Los Angeles space.

So how big is the creative economy? Try enormous. How about 340,000 jobs and a $3.3 billion economic impact in the L.A. and Orange County areas? How about every 10 direct jobs within the industry supporting nine indirect jobs?

Per the report highlights, Nearly half the revenues (42%) come from the entertainment industry with 28.2% coming from the fashion industry, 9.1% from the visual and performing arts and 8.6% from furniture and home furnishings.

Nonprofits like JVS make up 18.3% of the creative economy workforce with 235 in Los Angeles. A caveat: this is data as of 2007, and - at least in the highlights section - the report breaks down industries in the nonprofit sector as performing arts organizations (43%), museums (30%) and arts education (27%).

That adds up to 100%. Where this leaves nonprofits (or charities) which are not performing arts, museums or arts education, I'm not certain.

Although job growth declined in the creative economy 14% from 2007-2010, forecasters predict a 4.2% growth rate from now until 2015 with the largest growth expected in - you guessed it -digital media. Digital media showed the largest growth despite the recession with more than 700 jobs added since 2009.

Read the full report here.

Unemployment Drops, 146,000 new Jobs Added for November

Friday, Dec. 7 -- Now that the campaign season is over, even the rosiest, most spin-focused optimist on the planet couldn't - and wouldn't - paint a pretty picture of the U.S. economy. That said, the newly released November Jobs Report from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) looks better than it has in recent months.

Parts of it anyway. Like the part about unemployment dropping to 7.7%, the lowest it has been since December of 2008. 146,000 new jobs is nothing to sneeze at either.

Hurricane Sandy apparently had little effect on the job market, according to the BLS, and we can probably expect some sort of a bump in retail for December based on the influx of seasonal workers for the holidays (we'll get those numbers in January of 2013).

The problem, as numerous economists and employment trend watchers will tell you, is that the recovery isn't happening quickly enough. Part of the reason that the unemployment rate is dropping is not because tons of Americans are getting new jobs, but because they have left the labor force, i.e. have become discouraged and quit looking for jobs.

Writing in the Huffington Post, UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich puts the number of discouraged labor force exit-ers at 350,000.

"The percent of the working-age population in jobs continues to drop -- now at 63.6 percent, almost the lowest in 30 years. Meanwhile, the average workweek is stuck at 34.4 hours," writes Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton. "The reason the economy is still under-performing is demand is inadequate. Businesses won't create more jobs without enough customers. But consumers can't and won't spend because they don't have the money."

"Jobs must come first," he concludes. "Job creation must be our first priority."

The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more out of work) - whose ranks we see steadily at our JVS WorkSource Centers -remain steady throughout the country:4.8 million in November, accounting for 40.1 percent of the total unemployed.

More from the BLS news release: "The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 63.6 percent in November, offsetting an increase of the same amount in October. Total employment was about unchanged in November, following a combined increase of 1.3 million over the prior 2 months. The employment-population ratio, at 58.7 percent, changed little in November."

"The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 8.2 million in November, was little changed over the month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

"In November, 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

"Among the marginally attached, there were 979,000 discouraged workers in November, little changed from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

"The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities."

Welcome to JVS: We Provide the Rods and Reels

Wednesday, December 5 -- It's the saying/proverb/adage/whatever that will not...ever...go away.

"Give a man to fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."

Surely you've heard this pithy saying before. If you've ever been within 100 feet of a nonprofit agency, you've probably heard it more than once. You can switch the order around (although it's far less effective this way) or make it an "if...then proposition."

I first came across the proverb early in my tenure here at JVS when a donor to one of JVS signature training programs explained his philosophy with that very saying. (This donor likes to keep a low profile and shall therefore remain cloaked).

"I'd rather teach someone to fish than give them food," he said.

Sounded great to me because I had never heard the expression before. It was suggested to me that the quote might have come from Jesus.

Nope. Per Answers.com - which has never been wrong - the proverb's origin is unknown, although it has often been mis-attributed to Confucius, Lao Tzu, Laozi, and Guan Zhong.

It's not in the Bible. Maimonides never uttered the phrase, although the idea behind giving someone a trade is every bit part of the mission of the Jewish Educational Trade School (JETS) in the San Fernando Valley.

Convinced I might have found a respite from the proverb at least for a little while, I opened up the December-January issue of TRIBE Magazine which - not at all coincidentally - features a story on, yup, JVS training programs including BankWork$, HealthWorks and Veterans First.

It's a great article written by Julie Bien. You'll find it on page 25 in the Tikkun Olam section. Or read it online here.

The article's title? You guessed it: "Teach a Man to Fish."

Guess that means JVS is in the fishing-teaching business. And proud of it.

Rehab Therapy Services Set to Cap at $1,900 on January 1....


...unless Congress takes action to extend exceptions. Remember how a few weeks back JVS Works encouraged you to get in Congress' face about extending unemployment? Well, don't shut down that activist spirit just yet.

The United Spinal Association is leading the charge, via an action alert, encouraging people to urge Congress and the Senate not to set the $1,900 limit:

"The cap places arbitrary limits on access to medically necessary rehabilitation services for Medicare beneficiaries. For 2012 the level of the therapy cap is $1,880 for occupational therapy and a separate cap of $1,880 for physical therapy and speech-language-pathology services combined. Although an exceptions process is in place for 2012 the caps will return on January 1, 2013 unless Congress takes action.

Take action to help protect beneficiary access to critical and medically necessary therapy services."

This topic seems to come up periodically toward the end of the year. Read also SWAN Rehabilitation's blog explaining the cap and encouraging its readers to contact their Arizona elected officials to forego the cap.

You can read more here.

From Detroit to JVS with Anxiety


Wednesday, December 5 -- A group of researchers from Michigan and UCLA met at the JVS WorkSource Center in Marina Del Rey to discuss anxiety and depression.

Not to worry. The conversation was upbeat. And the hope is the outcome – and a partnership --  will be as well.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Depression Center hope to bring a program on the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on individuals with social anxiety disorder to Los Angeles. A three-year study of the effects of CBT on a select group of job seekers through JVS Detroit has shown encouraging results and now Dr. Joseph Himle and his team hope to try out the program in L.A.

“If we’re successful in catching people here with social anxiety and in treating and improving employment outcomes, our next project will allow us to track them for larger period of time and learn more about the benefits of this intervention,” said Himle, Associate Director of the University of Michigan's Stress & Anxiety Disorders Program (SADP). “If we’re successful, then our next big step would be to spread the word and find a way to train others in an efficient way around the country to do this work if it’s bound to be helpful.”

In Detroit, a group of job seekers who were identified as having social anxiety disorder were randomly divided into two groups. The first group received the standard vocational services that all JVS clients receive while the second group received additional work (an “intervention” in the form of a class) of CBT assistance in eight two-hour sessions over a four-week period.

JVS Detroit career services counselors administered the class. In addition to getting help with resumes and interviewing, these job seekers also got assistance on becoming more comfortable with people.

Over the duration of its three years, the Michigan study came to just under $1 million. The follow-up research that the team hopes to conduct will require a grant of four or five years and will carry a substantially higher price tag. The hope is to have a Los Angeles program in place while the Michigan research continues. Program administrators plan to apply for a grant through the National Institute of Mental Health.

According to preliminary data from the study, the job seekers with the extra help reported marked improvement in levels of social anxiety, generalized anxiety, depression and job search confidence compared to those who did not get the CBT counseling.

“We have several ideas about how social anxiety interferes with employment,” said Himle.

The SADP researchers believe that job seekers with social anxiety will avoid job interviews and don’t easily network with other people to try to find job leads. Employed individuals who suffer from social anxiety disorder tend not to inform their bosses when things are going badly or when they achieve success.

“We have examples of people working in factories where, if something isn’t working right on the stamping machine, they won’t tell anybody,” says Himle. “It’s a particular challenge in a service-based economy. In some ways, being a shy person in a factory might have been a benefit. You don’t talk much, you do your work, you don’t stay too long at lunch, you’re not the one to organize a union.

“But if you have a job at a hotel or a restaurant, your capability to interact with others is affected. Your comfort and poise are important commodities.”

The Michigan team, which includes social worker and study coordinator Sara Vlnka has a natural partnership with UCLA. Dr. Michelle Craske of UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry has conducted similar research not in a job-seeking setting, but within the primary care. Patients with social anxiety were treated with CBT techniques rather than with extensive medication and were found to make significant progress.

“We didn’t look specifically at work. We looked at functioning in general,” said Craske. “Typical treatment often involves lots of medication, referrals to general counseling and self-help groups, but no skill development. One of the characteristics of CBT is skill development.”

Himle originally thought to set his study in a primary care setting, possibly among welfare recipients. When he was consulting a physician, she pointed out the window of her office to the JVS Detroit building and suggested that Himle consider that agency.

“We found that social anxiety was the biggest predictor of trouble getting off public assistance when it came to the mental health disorders, more than depression, more than  substance abuse, more than PTSD,” said Himle.  “I thought wouldn’t that be interesting to go out there find people with social anxiety, help them with CBT and see if we can get them back to work.”

“We like JVS because of this national network affiliation," he continued. "We thought if we could be successful in one place, wouldn’t it be great to spread the news.”

Continuing the Spirit of Giving

Friday, November 30 - It’s not terribly difficult to find acts of generosity around the holidays. Or, here at JVS, at any other time of the year. The people who make up our agency “give” of themselves every day out of the year whether it’s time, money, advice or a willing ear. Thanksgiving was a week ago. Giving Tuesday, a day on which individuals are encouraged to support charities nationwide, launched earlier this week.

I recently "opened" the Huffington Post and learned that an act by a New York City Police Office  - and an accompanying photo – has gone viral. Officer Larry DePrimo, age 25 years old, came across a barefooted homeless man on a chilly New York night. He went down the street to Sketchers and bought the man a pair of insulated boots and compression socks. He apparently also offered to buy the man a cup of coffee, but the man refused.

Price tag: $75. Gesture: selfless. Worth: inestimable.

Because a tourist happened to snap a picture of the officer’s act and shared it, the photo has gone viral, more than 47,000 shares. NYPD’s Facebook page has over 260,000 new likes.

As well it should. Who wouldn’t “like” this kind of generosity?

Per the HuffPost, the officer understood that he was doing a favor for his fellow man. “He smiled from ear to ear," DePrimo is quoted in the article. "It was like you gave him a million dollars."

DePrimo’s next comment is even more telling: “I didn't think anything of it."

Not surprising. People who are this kind of selfless rarely do.

We have many people just like this at JVS.  These are people who donate tens of thousands of dollars to the agency after year, helping needy students with JVS scholarships; supporting our training programs and donating toys and gifts for client families with children. These generous donors make life just a little easier for those who are struggling in this volatile economy and unstable job market.

Many of these people don’t want attention or any kind of recognition. If asked why they give, they would say because it’s the right thing to do. “Because that’s how I was brought up,” “because there’s a need.”

I thought about the idea of “giving” as I learned about a pair of sisters, each of whom will receive new smiles – and, hopefully, new lives – thanks to the generosity of JVS benefactor Dr. Mark Katz as well as the collaborative efforts of JVS Grant Coordinator Joyce Cele, BankWork$ case manager Maria Zuniga and the Change A Life Foundation. Dr. Katz has worked  with JVS providing thousands of dollars worth of dental work to improve the all-important personal and professional appearance of two women who had never seen a dentist growing up and who now require an enormous amount of restorative and cosmetic treatment.

Through the Change a Life Foundation, each sister was awarded a $5,000 grant for dental work. The cost of treatment - surgery, extractions, root canals, fillings and more -  far exceeds the $5,000 grant award.  But as with previous JVS clients, Dr. Katz and his colleagues will provide the services not covered by the grant free of charge – a “philanthropic discount”.

Dr. Mark Katz, continues in the charitable footsteps of his father, Dr. Sanford Katz, by providing thousands of dollars worth of dental work to improve the all-important personal and professional appearance of JVS clients. Many of our clients come from difficult domestic situations and have overcome hardships and challenges to improve their lives and train for careers that will lead to a better quality of life for them and their families.

I have no idea what a 25-year-old NYPD Detective earns or how much a $75 purchase of boots and socks makes a dent in his budget. There can be no balancing, comparing or cross-measuring the generosity of a Larry DePrimo with a Dr. Mark Katz or even with a person who gives millions of dollars to endow a university’s library.

People give because they “don’t think anything of it.”

Perhaps this is something all the rest of us should be thinking about.


Dr. Seuss and the Economy

Thursday, November 29 - Do I have your attention? We don’t often see those two subjects paired, right?

It certainly caught my attention when I opened my copy of “Reconnecting to Work: Policies to Mitigate Long-Term Unemployment and Its Consequences” recently published by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

The forward, written by celebrated economist Richard B. Freeman of Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research, carried the provocative title “What Happened to Shared Prosperity and How to Get Them Back: A Seussian Perspective.”

"Seussian" as in Dr. Seuss, AKA Theodor Geisel, creator of The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Horton the Elephant and a whole lot of other characters you probably know from childhood.

Theodor Geisel who – even before his death in 1991 – was not generally recognized as a man who had perspective on the economy or jobs.

This doesn’t phase Freeman who attended a conference titled “Reconnecting to Work” at UCLA in 2011 as the United States was facing “9-10 percent unemployment and little sign of substantive job growth in the foreseeable future” and got to thinking. Using characters such as the Grinch, the Whos of Whoville, Horton , the Once-ler, Freeman very deftly – and quite humorously – sounds a warning that structural issues which he blames for the weak labor market are still prevalent. Yet he also declares “I am more optimistic than I was at the reconnecting to Work conference that the United States will come out of Wall Street’s financial implosion and the Great Recession with reforms that will restore full employment and prosperity for all citizens. I hope that economics and social science, and, more broadly, policy analysis, are up to the task of developing efficient programs to help attain this goal.”

It’s a great read and many of the essays assembled (written by scholars from around the world) are equally interesting. Particularly noteworthy for those of us who don’t study the minutae of economic trends is Chapter 4, “Causality in the Relationship between Mental Health and Unemployment” written by Timothy M. Diette and Arthur Goldsmith (both of Washington and Lee University), Darrick Hamilton (The New School) and William Darity Jr. (Duke University).

Diette et al find “extensive evidence of a direct link between mental health and involuntary joblessness; however, the possibility that poor emotional well-being leads to long periods of unemployment has left the question of causality unresolved. .. We find that long-term unemployment – but not short-term unemployment – promotes psychological distress among resilient persons.”

Learn more here.

Giving Tuesday - Start The Tradition!

It may take awhile before the day (and the phrase) Giving Tuesday tunnels into the cultural lexicon the way its week-sharing touchstones Black Friday and Cyber Monday have done. Nonetheless this national campaign to raise awareness and discussion about the importance of giving in the holiday season is no gimmick. The campaign started with the 92nd Street Y in New York along with some pretty powerful partners including the United Way, the United Nations Foundation, Microsoft and many others…nearly 50 in total.

This Tuesday (tomorrow), Nov. 27, is the first “Get out the Give.” Individuals, families, charities and businesses are encouraged to spread the word on the importance of giving during this the giving season. There will be a national dialog via Twitter (follow #GivingTuesday) and hopefully the masses will not simply cyberyak about smart and meaningful giving, they’ll open their wallets as well. 1,400 organizations are taking part in the campaign.

From the Giving Tuesday website: “Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

And together we’ll create ways to give more, give better and give smarter.”

Here’s hoping that Giving Tuesday takes off in a big way. An NPR report on Giving Tuesday, citing a survey from the charity-advising firm Blackbaud, says that almost 50% of existing donors said they planned to give less or to fewer charities this holiday season. 13 percent said that  they would give more. The same report notes that the average age of donors is 65, meaning the campaign desperately needs to pull in younger givers.

Sobering Job Prospects for National Guard Soldiers


Amidst the Black Friday madness, middle east conflict, Texas traffic pileup, USC vs. Notre Dame and all the other news that went down over Thanksgiving weekend, the Los Angeles Times shed an important spotlight on a sector of the military population hit particularly hard by the job crisis.

That would be soldiers and airmen and women from the National Guard, 20% of whom return home to unemployment. The percentage doubles the 10% unemployment for all veterans who have served since September 2001. Locally, unemployment stands at just under 17% for the California National Guard.

The fact that the nation has tapped National Guard officers and put them on the front lines for the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns means that our Guard and reserve officers have long since shed the “weekend warrior” designation. Guard soldiers and reserve officers can be called upon for peacekeeping duties abroad as well as to fulfill state obligations. And when a person can be summoned for duty at any time, that makes him or her a less valuable commodity in the eyes of potential employers.

There’s no reason for JVSWorks to restate all of Times reporter Alexandra Zavis’s excellent article (although, as always, we encourage you to read it). A shout out, certainly to the work being done by Major Ty Shepard whose state program Work for Warriors is looking to take down unemployment in California. Per Zavis’s article, Work for Warriors has “helped find work for more than 300 of the 1,789 members who have contacted them.”

That may seem like a low percentage and, indeed, nothing about this situation seems even slightly encouraging. The article concludes by referencing Guard members who are using their GI benefits to go to school and hopefully waiting out the recession and improve their employment prospects. They too might find themselves unemployed unless the economy picks up.

Learn more about Work for Warriors. Check out the job board at Vetjobs.com and learn about JVS’ Veterans First here.

How Charities Get a Bad Name

Our blogosphere brethren at the Huffington Post took it to Donald "You're fired!" Trump for his tweets. Mr Trump has been using Twitter to attack everything from President Obama to the election to whatever else happens to be getting under his skin. His attacks on charities - specifically UNICEF and the American Red Cross -- drew the ire of Timothy Stenovec who called out Mr. Trump for inaccurate tweets.

"For whatever reason," Stenovec wrote, "Trump took some time out of his bone idleness yesterday to jump on Twitter and start complaining about the compensation being doled out to the people who run the Red Cross and UNICEF. As per usual, Trump's bleatings were utterly unconstrained from even a nominal obligation to be factually accurate."

Trump's tweets expressed his outrage over the CEO of the American Red Cross earning a salary of nearly $1 million in 2011...even though, per Stenovec, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern actually only took home $501,122.

More: he accused UNCIEF CEO Caryl M. Stern of riding around in a Rolls Royce, only to have Stern tweet back at Trump : uh-uh. No Rolls. Just a Prius. "fire your fact checker and help us save kids lives."

One of the barometers that Stenovec cites in disproving Trump's harsh assessment of the American Red Cross - which is, full disclosure, one of JVS partners for our HealthWorks program - is Charity Navigator which gives the Red Cross a perfect 70 out of 70 in accountability and transparency.

United States Fund for UNICEF earned 63 out of 70 from Charity Navigator in accountability and transparency. Both organizations earned three star ratings from the entity.

JVS also received 63 out of 70 from Charity Navigator, which exists to to help people give to charity with confidence and shine lights on "truly effective organizations."  Our agency, received a four star rating, the highest ranking possible.