Hope tries to overcome economy
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Hope tries to overcome economy

Date: April 1, 2009
By: Theo Keith
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: A quarter of a million Missourians are unemployed, but some aren't giving up hope.

Theo Keith has more from Columbia. 

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Four months ago, Linda Barnes got sick.

 
Actuality:  BARNES8.WAV
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Description: I came down with congestive heart failure not once but twice. And then they found out that I had COPD and emphasima, and all sorts of health issues. And I couldn't work while I was in the hospital so, therefore, I lost my job.

Barnes was living paycheck-to-paycheck.
 
Actuality:  BARNES3.WAV
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Description: The job that I lost was the first job I've ever lost in my life. So I was pretty down, I was real down. My kids had moved out, empty nest syndrome, lost my job, all of a sudden I've got heart failure and I'm sick. I mean, I was down.
 
After she lost her job, she couldn't pay for food, medicine, or even a roof over her head.
 
Actuality:  BARNES10.WAV
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Description: I slept in the park, but I'm a city girl and I'm not real good about camping, so I chose a nice leafy area and found out the leaves were poison ivy.

Barnes then went to the Salvation Army's Harbor House in Columbia.
 
She's been living at the house for four months, and now volunteers as a receptionist.
 
The organization's regional coordinator, Major Kendall Matthews, says he's seen a lot more people like Barnes during the past year.
 
Harbor House's 45 beds are full - a 25 percent jump from a year ago.
 
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Description: We're trying to nurture them, take them out of - from the guttermost to the uttermost, from the negative to the positive, from the dark to the light, from the unhopeful to the hopeful.

Hope - something Matthews says the jobless, the homeless, and the hungry need a little more of.
 
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Description: People want to know that there's still hope in the midst of a difficult situation. They want to still know that somebody out there is still waving the flag of hope.

But Matthews knows current tough times are bleak.
 
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Description: For me, coming up, our neighborhood was filled with children. Our neighborhood - there was no abandoned homes. There were people in those homes, families in those homes. And I think our housing market really is a reflection on how our neighborhoods are doing.
 
The state's February unemployment rate was 8.3 percent - the highest in a quarter century.
 
This year, 85,000 more Missourians are out of work than last.
 
Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Herb Johnson called our economic woes a depression.
 
Actuality:  JOHNSON.WAV
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Description: We've got a nice facade out here, because we've all drive pretty cars and have beautiful homes and have enjoyed a standard of living far in excess of what folks did in the 1930s. So it doesn't look like there's suffering going on. But there is.

Johnson says he's heard thousands of Missouri's laid-off workers share their stories.
 
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Description: People who are losing their employment now never thought they ever would.

Johnson wasn't sure how these people will find work. 
 
But Barnes says she's looking for a new job.

She says other people in her situation should keep hoping, too.
 
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Description: Just, you know, keep your head up. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's going to be bad, it's going to be good, but you're going to enjoy the journey. You know? That's about it. That's all I'm trying to do.

Reporting from Columbia, I'm Theo Keith, Newsradio 1120 KMOX.
Intro: Missouri's unemployment rate slowed its climb in February, but rose nevertheless.

Theo Keith has more from Jefferson City. 

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OutCue: SOC

More than a quarter of a million Missourians are out of work, the most since the federal government began keeping track of the numbers.

Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Herb Johnson says the recession is worse than the early 1980s, when the state's unemployment rate hit its peak.

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Description: I just think it's a terrible shame that it's come to this. But here we are. There won't be anyone coming to assist us. You won't see any nation in the world come to help us out. You can count on it.

Johnson says he's met with thousands of people who have lost their jobs.

And Johnson says he doesn't know how they will get back to work.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Theo Keith, Newsradio 1120 KMOX.


Intro: One Salvation Army official says the best way for a quarter-million unemployed Missourians to cope with tough times is with hope.

Theo Keith has more from Jefferson City. 

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OutCue: SOC

Major Kendall Matthews is busy these days.

The Salvation Army's regional coordinator says the organization's Harbor House in Columbia is full.

There are 25 percent more jobless, homeless, and hungry residents than a year ago.

But Matthews says he has not lost hope.

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Run Time: 00:08
Description: My father told me a long time ago that big ships are hard to turn, but they turn in time. The same thing with our economy.

The state's unemployment rate crept up to 8.3 percent in February - the highest in a quarter century.

And nearly 85,000 more Missourians are out of work compared to a year ago.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Theo Keith, Newsradio 1120 KMOX.