Help available for the jobless

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2005

After 15 years as a social worker at the Norfolk Naval Station, Maria Bierly never worried about job security.

All that changed in December, when the Suffolk woman lost her job just four years shy of retirement.

&uot;When money going to the Navy was cut, many of the (social work) programs suffered cuts,&uot; said Bierly. &uot;It wasn’t expected…and for me, it’s been a pretty traumatic event.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I was struggling and could see myself going downhill.&uot;

In hope of finding support from others in similar situations, Bierly contacted the Western Tidewater Community Services Board.

After discovering the agency doesn’t offer a support group for unemployed people, she proposed that one be started.

Her proposal won Western Tidewater’s support, said Arlene Dewell, the agency’s consumer/family affairs specialist.

&uot;If you look at a list of life’s most stressful events, job loss is in the top five,&uot; Dewell said.

&uot;It’s a major life-stressor and may cause one to plummet into depression and anxiety.&uot;

But help is on the way.

Bierly, working through Western Tidewater, is starting a self-help group for the unemployed next month. The first meeting will be held at 2 p.m. April 7 at Suffolk Christian Church.

&uot;Group members will provide emotional support for one another and help build each other’s self-esteem,&uot; Dewell said. &uot;I think a lot of people will benefit from this.

&uot;We’ve had a lot of interest from people who have heard about it via word of mouth,&uot; she said.

For more information, contact Bierly at 925-1498 or 925-6054 or via email at