You read the stats and facts about the economy and layoffs quite frequently, but seeing the faces behind the numbers is another story.
Philip Fanara, 55, is a father of four. After 16 years as a project manager for AT&T Wireless, this Suffern resident was one of the many casualties when the company downsized.
“I lost my job in all these masses layoffs—surpluses they called them at the time,” he said. “I tried to get back into the company, I almost got back in (but) they kept letting more and more people go.”
Unemployment is new for Fanara. Before his full-time job overseeing AT&T’s security and drug prevention group, he worked in sales and marketing for ten years.
As with many who face unemployment, they reevaluate their paths and some look to reinvent themselves.
“I looked at myself and where I wanted to go,” he said.
When the Rockland County Guidance Center was defunded last year, that was the end of the center’s job club, which provided support for unemployed Rocklanders. One of the job club’s members, Fran Oldenburger, then founded the (RJN). Fanara was a part of the job club and is now on the executive board of the RJN.
“When (the job club) became defunded, we got together on our own to find ways to help each other look for work,” said Fanara. “It just made sense to bring this to other people since we had been talking with other people who have been unemployed. We’ve been growing and found that there are other groups similar to us.”
“At this point, (RJN) has helped my network grow tremendously,” said Fanara, adding that the RJN meetings keeps him on point with his job search and enjoys learning from guest speakers that visit the group’s meetings.
A common mistake among the unemployed is losing sight of their job search.
“(RJN) it keeps people accountable for what they need to do. When people get laid off, we get lazy and laidback and don’t keep on the course we need to stay on and can lose focus,” said Fanara, adding that he keeps himself busy in other ways than RJN.
“I’m rethinking what I really want to do for a living,” he said, adding that he’s been actively applying to different jobs. “I’m trying to reinvent myself with my new skills of coaching and apply to coaching and teaching positions.”
“I’m trying to target companies that are strong in the market and look for a position within them,” he said of his strategy when he’s job hunting. “I’m also exploring different avenues.” One of the odd jobs he’s picked up to keep himself occupied during his unemployment is fixing up his parents’ home. This opened up a new interest and door for Fanara.
“Since I did work at my folks’ house, I’ve been really interested. I’m very resourceful in taking care of these houses and fixing them up. I’m considering property management, real estate or becoming a landlord.
“I’m not focusing on one career anymore,” he added. “We need to diversify ourselves to make a decent living and support our families and extended families too. I need to make sure I cover all the bases.”
He added that he’s keeping his job hunt close to home because of his four children.
“It’s tough on the financial side, but emotionally too. We have to cut corners obviously and the vacations are zero to none. Any vacations we do have, they have to be day trips if we’re lucky.”
Fanara is originally from Queens, but has lived in Rockland most of his life. His children are ages 17, 15, 12 and 10, so one is heading off to college soon with the others not too far behind.
“I can’t tell you how concerned I am with college,” said Fanara. “I know they have the skill set to (go to college). How they’re going to do it, I’m not sure. As parents we try to reiterate our financial concerns to our kids. When things get a little better we can do the right thing and prepare.”
He added that although times have been rough, he and his family were not completely destroyed by his sudden unemployment.”
“I was one of those people who did prepare for situations that may happen and it did,” said Fanara. “I’m going to plan for the better and look at these things as lessons learned. We need to encourage more.”