GREENSBURG –Unemployment is bad for the health for many reasons. It has negative psychological effects on individuals, families, and communities, and according to the American Psychological Association, unemployed individuals are twice as likely as individuals who are employed to suffer from depression, anxiety, low sense of well-being and poor self-esteem.
Women are more negatively affected by unemployment than men. Women more often report levels of stress that cause them to choose unhealthy foods or skip meals. Unemployed women are also more likely to report physical symptoms of stress, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, or lack of energy.
Children of unemployed individuals experience higher levels of stress and more symptoms of depression. Depression in children can result in problems at school, substance abuse, high-risk sexual behavior, physical health ailments, problems in social relationships, and increased risk of suicide.
The most recent figures report that Decatur County’s unemployment rate is 2.5 percent. That’s .6 percent lower than the state average of 3.1 and 1.6 percent below the national average of 4.1 percent, as reported by the United States Department of Labor.
Decatur County’s unemployment rate is relatively low, but there is still assistance available to the un- and underemployed, and Philip Deiwert, Employment Coordinator with Rural Works at the Greensburg Community Learning Center is available and eager to help.
With an inviting smile, an easy-going manner, and an endless supply of contacts and resources at his hands, he’s quick to explain that he, too has been unemployed for stretches of his 37 years, and he understands how it feels.
“I’ve been told ‘no’ many times in my life when I was unemployed, and I know that when you hear that over and over again, it’s easy to give up,” Deiwert said.
“I really do understand,” Deiwert explains. “And for that individual who has felony convictions, addiction issues, or faces childcare challenges… those are just a few of the many barriers to finding a job. And that’s why I’m here.”
“Unemployment is low in Decatur County, but it usually stays right around 3.5 to 4 percent and never goes away. So Tami Wenning and the Decatur County Community Foundation board decided they wanted to do something about it. They knew what they wanted to do, but they didn’t know how to do it,” Deiwert explains.
“So, they did some research and discovered River Valley Resources down in Madison was doing a program called Rural Works. It is a version of the Cincinnati Works program that services thousands of clients a year; Rural Works was adapted for this area. They had to push a bit to get it here, but ultimately they expanded the program to include Decatur County,” Deiwert finished.
“The Decatur County Community Foundation funded year one of the Rural Works program in Decatur County. Year two was funded by the DCCF, along with contributions from Decatur County Community Corrections and Decatur County United Fund, and the program continues in 2018,” Deiwert explained.
He is currently working to secure funding for year three to guarantee that it remains a viable program in Decatur County. “We are not-for-profit, and I’m essentially a one-man-show in Greensburg, so I have to write grants for my funding. But of course, I always accept donations,” he added good-naturedly.
Phillip is the son of Ed and Jane Deiwert, and the grandson of Fred and Sarah Deiwert. “I never planned to move back here, but there were a number of factors that contributed to me coming back home… a major one being my own unemployment. I also wanted to get involved with my community, and when you’re not a native, that can be difficult,” Deiwert said.
“I am employment coordinator here, and I do a workshop every other week. In that workshop, I usually have three to five clients. Just people from the area who need help finding a job. I’m capable of taking on more clients, and it’s starting to get out that I’m here,” Deiwert said.
“In a Rural Works workshop, we work on things like building a resume, money saving tips, health and anger issues and how to quit a job, filling out an application. I try to help my clients with the all of the issues affecting getting a job. And you’d think that people would be taught this in school, but they aren’t,” Deiwert explained.
He continued with “we talk about interviewing skills and about how to share your ‘baggage’, whatever it may be in job interviews. There are real reasons why people are unemployed, and I talk to them about how to share that information to their prospective employers in a non-threatening way.”
“We do mock interviews during the workshop, and sometimes I’ve invited actual HR managers from local businesses to evaluate them and to help them hone their interview skills,” Deiwert said. “We’ve even had a few participants offered jobs on the spot as a direct result of those mock interviews,” he added with satisfaction.
Deiwert explained that he feels his job is to understand the needs of the employers— which ones will or will not hire felons as an example, and then match that with the skill sets and needs of the applicant.
“I feel like it’s my job to know all the employers in the area and exactly what they’re looking for in a new hire.”
He is quick to say how much he enjoys his job, and he feels that his responsibilities don’t stop just at getting people employed.
“I had a young woman graduate from the workshop last week, for example, who is pregnant. Her kids are hungry, they don’t have enough food. So I called Bread of Life and they were incredibly generous in getting groceries and supplies to her. I’d never had a client that was struggling like she was, and I was able to help her. Every day offers a new challenge, and that’s why I love this job.”
Deiwert explains that when he’s not working one-on-one with a client, he’s out in the community making connections and forming alliances that will serve his core clients in the future. “You never know how things are going to work out. There’s a weird sort of karma in the world that puts you face to face with the people you meet every day, and I love using that to help my clients.”
Philip Deiwert, Employment Counselor for Rural Works of River Valley Resources has an office at the Community Learning Center at 422 East Central Avenue in Greensburg. His organization is not-for-profit, and therefore, his services are completely free to anyone needing help locating gainful employment, part time or full time. He can be contacted at 812-592-7326 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext. 7011 or email at email@example.com.