Skip to nav Skip to content Skip to footer

Pilot program puts middle-age metro Detroiters back to work

Left to right: Joyce Parrott and Pelecia Ward.

Romona Irvin, like many other middle-age metro Detroiters, lost her job during the recession and has been looking for a new job for so long that desperation is setting in.

The 58-year-old, who has a degree in accounting, has been turned down so many times that even though she didn’t want to color her hair when someone suggested too much gray might be off-putting to employers, she bought a black wig and wore it to her most recent job interview.

“I’m not dying my hair,” she said proudly.

But, she half-joked to the fellow job-seekers also in a 13-week pilot program at the Northwest Activities Center that started last week, the wig might have worked. The company called her back for a second interview. Now — Irvin wondered aloud — should she don it a second time, or let them see her as she really is?

“Unemployment does more than deprive you of the paycheck you’re used to,” Joe Carbone, the CEO of WorkPlace, told the group of program participants who met Thursday. “You did not cause this. You were caught up in a storm.”

The economic downturn — from 2007 to 2009 — was so bad economists dubbed it the Great Recession. More than 8.8 million jobs were lost nationally, and even as the economy recovers, many like Irvin, are still struggling to find work.

To continue reading please click here.