Four and a half weeks ago, Josie Wilson of Grand Junction, Colorado, and her husband, Josh, were sitting at their local workforce center brainstorming for new ways to look for jobs. Josie had been unemployed since January, Josh since July, and neither of them had had any luck with the traditional route of applying and waiting. They had exhausted all their savings trying to pay rent and keep food on the table and were quickly running out of ways to support their two daughters.
“Up until that point, I had applied for every job I could find in any place you could think of: newspapers, Craigslist, Monster.com. For every job thats available, there are 80 people who apply for it,” Wilson told Huffpost.
Almost at the point of giving up, Wilson, 31, says she and her husband finally decided to swallow their pride and try something most people wouldn’t: standing out on a street corner with a pile of resumés and a cardboard sign.
“We take three-hour shifts,” she said. “I try not to leave until I’ve at least talked to ten people, whether they stop and talk to me about a job or I give them my resumé. And while I’m standing out there getting ideas, my husband walks around business to business getting our resumés out. You never know where you’re gonna find something.”
Wilson said she started out with a plain cardboard sign that said, simply, “I need a job, please take my resumé,” but she has since upgraded to a white posterboard with a more attention-grabbing declaration: “Scariest Halloween Costume: Mother of 2 and Unemployed.”
“I have stood out in the rain,” she said. “The weather’s not gonna deter me from finding a career that puts a roof over our heads and food on the table.”
While the couple’s efforts have yet to lead to any viable job opportunities in Colorado, where the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in August, they have handed out hundreds of resumés, received a couple of job leads and recently caught the attention of their local news station.
“My kids didn’t know about it until it came on the news,” Wilson said. “It’s not something I wanted them to know, but it was actually not embarrassing to them– they were kind of proud.”
What’s most encouraging, Wilson said, is the outpouring of support she has received from her community.
“I’ve had from police officers give me high fives and thumbs up, I’ve had business people stop on their way to work and tell me good luck and that they’re praying for me,” she said. “I felt like I had no pride left when I started doing this, but now it’s like, you know what? No, I’m doing what I have to do to find a way to take care of my family.”
As part of its Impact 2.0 project, HuffPost is rounding up stories of people who are struggling to stay afloat in the recession. If you have a story to tell, e-mail Lbassett@huffingtonpost.com.